LCQ15: Promoting work relevant to youth
In 2017, the Government announced the establishment of the Youth Development Commission (YDC) to more holistically and effectively examine and discuss policy issues of concern to young people, especially the work relating to addressing young people's concerns about education, career pursuit and home ownership, and encouraging their participation in politics as well as public policy discussion and debate (work relevant to the youth). Moreover, the Chief Executive indicated in the 2021 Policy Address to invite the YDC to explore ways to enrich its existing programmes and launch new funding initiatives, so as to enable young people to develop positive values and become a new generation with a sense of responsibility, and with an aspiration and willingness to strive for the future of the country and Hong Kong. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the findings and recommendations of the aforesaid study conducted by the YDC; whether it has assessed the actual effectiveness of the operation of the YDC; whether the Government has made practicable policy planning and set interim goals for promoting work relevant to the youth;
(2) whether it has considered collaborating continuously with the business sector (e.g. China-capital enterprises) in launching more university student internship programmes in different forms (e.g. arranging longer internship periods or internships supplemented by online activities), thereby consolidating the component of "addressing young people's concerns about career pursuit" in work relevant to the youth, and facilitating Hong Kong young people to integrate into the overall development of the country; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(3) whether it has considered collaborating continuously with the Mainland cities of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (Greater Bay Area) in launching more Mainland study and exchange programmes in different forms (e.g. exchanges conducted online) for secondary students, thereby consolidating the component of "addressing young people's concerns about education" in work relevant to the youth, and assisting Hong Kong students in integrating into the Greater Bay Area; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Young people are the future, pillars and hope of our society. They are also the engine that drives the long-term development of society and the economy. Youth development is a priority of the current-term Government. We strive to address young people's concern about education, career pursuit and home ownership, and encourage their participation in politics as well as public policy discussion and debate. In doing so, the younger generation will see hope and opportunities for upward mobility. The Youth Development Commission (YDC) was established on April 1, 2018 to enhance policy co-ordination within the Government and enable a more holistic and effective examination of and discussion on issues of concern to young people, thereby addressing their concerns about education, career pursuit and home ownership, and encouraging their participation in politics as well as public policy discussion and debate. At its first meeting, the YDC has already pinned down three broad directions for its work, namely, (1) supporting young people's selection of suitably study pathways; (2) facilitating young people's career development and promoting their upward mobility; and (3) strengthening communication channels with young people. In addition, the challenges faced by Hong Kong over the past two years have also prompted us to rethink the positioning and focus of our youth work. Specifically, the YDC is cognisant of the need to put more emphasis on nurturing young people's positive thinking.
Having consulted the Labour and Welfare Bureau, the Transport and Housing Bureau and the Education Bureau (EDB), our consolidated reply to the various parts of the question raised by the Hon Yim Kong is as follows:
(1) The current-term Government has collaborated with the YDC over the past few years to launch various initiatives to address young people's concerns about education, career pursuits and home ownership, and encourage their participation in politics as well as public policy discussion and debate. In particular, in line with the above broad directions of its work, the YDC has implemented a series of specific measures, including:
On supporting young people's selection of suitable study pathways, the YDC is committed to promoting cross-bureau and cross-sectoral collaboration to strengthen youth life-planning work. In this regard, the Funding Scheme for Youth Life Planning Activities (YLPA) run by the YDC has undergone various enhancements with additional resources since the current round (2019-22). With these enhancements, a total of 24 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been funded to collaborate with about 360 secondary schools in the current round of the YLPA, representing an increase in the number of schools benefited by over 30 per cent compared to the previous round. For the next round of the YLPA (2022-25), additional resources will be allocated to, inter alia, encourage funded NGOs to organise more activities to help young people understand and explore development opportunities arising from the 14th Five-Year Plan and the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.
On facilitating young people's career development and promoting their upward mobility, the YDC will continue to enhance and expand various youth exchange and internship programmes/schemes to help young people broaden their own horizons and learn about the work environment and workplace culture outside Hong Kong. Moreover, the YDC has rolled out two funding schemes under the Youth Development Fund, namely, the Funding Scheme for Youth Entrepreneurship in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (the Entrepreneurship Scheme) and the Funding Scheme for Experiential Programmes at Innovation and Entrepreneurial Bases in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (the Experiential Scheme), which respectively provide start-up capital subsidy, entrepreneurial support and incubation services for potential Hong Kong young entrepreneurs and enrich Hong Kong young people's understanding of the innovative and entrepreneurial bases in the Mainland cities of the Greater Bay Area (GBA), as well as the relevant policies and supporting measures on innovation and entrepreneurship in the Mainland. The lists of funded NGOs under the two funding schemes were announced last year. Under the Entrepreneurship Scheme, about $130 million of subsidies were granted to a total of 16 NGOs to organise youth entrepreneurship projects, rendering capital subsidy, entrepreneurial support and incubation services to young entrepreneurs. As for the Experiential Scheme, about $5 million was granted for 15 NGOs to organise short-term experiential programmes at the entrepreneurial bases in the Mainland cities of the GBA.
On strengthening communication channels with young people, the YDC introduced a new measure in 2020 and arranged policy thematic meetings to invite relevant policy bureaux, YDC members and young people to engage in focused discussions on relevant topics and policies of specific policy areas, particularly those in relation to young people's concerns about education, career pursuit, home ownership as well as their participation in politics and public policy discussion and debate. At the past three meetings, we discussed topics including young employment, multiple pathways other than employment and nurturing young people's positive thinking. Through the relevant meetings, the YDC and relevant policy bureaux listened to young people's views directly, thus enabling the policy bureaux to implement relevant policy measures more effectively and with more thorough consideration. Subject to the development of the pandemic, the YDC will continue to serve as a bridge to strengthen communication with young people through various online and physical channels.
On nurturing young people's positive thinking, the YDC has actively responded to the Chief Executive's invitation in her 2021 Policy Address. It will launch a new funding scheme to subsidise eligible NGOs to organise projects that are conducive to nurturing young people's positive thinking, particularly those projects which involve cross-sectoral efforts or are youth-led and could drive community building, with a view to enabling them to become a new generation with a sense of responsibility, and with an aspiration and willingness to strive for the future of our country and of Hong Kong. Furthermore, the YDC rolled out a pilot scheme to promote youth outdoor adventure training activities in July 2021. The pilot scheme has received positive responses so far and is expected to benefit about 2 600 young people. Subject to the outcome of the pilot scheme, the YDC will roll out a brand-new thematic funding scheme on outdoor adventure training activities for more NGOs to provide systematic and quality outdoor adventure training activities for young people and help them develop positive values.
In addition, various policy bureaux have briefed the YDC on their work in addressing young people's concerns about education, career pursuit and home ownership, as well as encouraging their participation in politics, public policy discussion and debate. Taking career pursuit as an example, the Labour Department (LD) implements the Youth Employment and Training Programme (YETP) to provide pre-employment and on-the-job training for young school leavers aged 15 to 24 with educational attainment at sub-degree level or below. The LD launched a pilot scheme in September 2020 to encourage eligible young employees placed into employment under the YETP to undergo and complete on-the-job training through the provision of a retention allowance, thereby stabilising employment. The LD has also set up two youth employment resource centres entitled "Youth Employment Start" to provide one-stop personalised employment and self-employment support service to young people aged 15 to 29. To encourage and support young people of Hong Kong to work in the Mainland cities of the GBA and grasp the career development opportunities there, LD launched the Greater Bay Area Youth Employment Scheme in January 2021 to encourage enterprises with businesses in both Hong Kong and GBA Mainland cities to employ university graduates from Hong Kong and deploy them to work in GBA Mainland cities.
As for housing, the Government has been sparing no efforts in identifying land for housing construction so as to address the housing needs of different sectors, including the youth. We are also committed to enriching the housing ladder, including revising the pricing policy for Home Ownership Scheme flats by delinking their selling prices from the property prices in the private property market; introducing the Starter Homes for Hong Kong Residents pilot projects; regularising the Green Form Subsidised Home Ownership Scheme and the White Form Secondary Market Scheme, and accelerating the sale of unsold flats in the Tenant Purchase Scheme estates, etc.
We have also briefed the YDC on the implementation of the Member Self-recommendation Scheme for Youth (MSSY) at its recent meeting. As one of the measures announced in the 2017 Policy Address, the MSSY aims at providing more opportunities for young people to participate in policy discussions. Since its launch, the MSSY has received over 8 200 applications and offered 131 seats in total covering 65 committees. So far, about 480 posts are held by young people who have been appointed to advisory and statutory bodies directly or indirectly through the MSSY. With the concerted efforts of policy bureaux, the ratio of youth members in these bodies has increased from 7.8 per cent in end-2017 to 15.4 per cent in end-2021, thereby successfully achieving the target of 15 per cent set by the current-term Government.
The Chief Executive (CE) put forward a proposal for the reorganisation of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government structure in her Policy Address announced last October and the Legislative Council was briefed on the relevant proposal in January this year. Among these proposals which have been accepted in full by the CE-elect and considered and endorsed by the Executive Council, one of them is the establishment of the Home and Youth Affairs Bureau to review and formulate in a more holistic manner an overall youth policy and a blueprint for youth development as well as to promote, co-ordinate and supervise the implementation of youth work by various policy bureaux. In particular, the blueprint for youth development is an important document for the next-term Government to promote Hong Kong's youth development work in the future. It will outline the objectives of Hong Kong's overall youth development work and the broad directions of work, as well as set out the relevant future work plans, specific actions, initiatives and indicators. The Home and Youth Affairs Bureau will take the lead to co-ordinate with relevant policy bureaux for the implementation of the blueprint.
(2) and (3) As mentioned above, on facilitating young people's career development and promoting their upward mobility, the YDC continues to enhance and expand various youth exchange and internship programmes/schemes. Specifically, we have been organising youth internship activities in the Mainland through the Funding Scheme for Youth Internship in the Mainland so that young people may gain a deeper understanding of the employment market, work culture and development opportunities therein. In addition, we also collaborate with top-notch scientific research and cultural institutions in the Mainland as well as major corporations in Hong Kong to implement the Thematic Youth Internship Programmes to the Mainland and the Scheme on Corporate Summer Internship on the Mainland and Overseas respectively, providing unique internship opportunities for Hong Kong young people with different backgrounds, expertise and interests. Prior to the pandemic, the three abovementioned internship schemes altogether offered Mainland internship opportunities to over 4 000 young people.
As regards youth exchange, we subsidise, through the Funding Scheme for Youth Exchange in the Mainland, NGOs to organise Mainland exchange projects for young people in order to enhance Hong Kong young people's awareness and understanding of their home country, fostering exchange with the Mainland people and strengthening their sense of national identity. The funded NGOs are required to organise exchange programmes with specific themes for young people to conduct exchange activities in respect of the Mainland's history, culture, arts, science, sports, economy, livelihood and social system. Prior to the pandemic, the scheme sponsored over 15 000 Hong Kong young people to participate in the various thematic Mainland exchange activities every year and sponsored around 3 000 Mainland young people to visit Hong Kong, with Hong Kong young people playing host.
Even though the relevant internship and exchange projects cannot be held for the time being due to the pandemic, we have permitted the funded NGOs to organise activities in Hong Kong that do not involve crowd gatherings, such as online briefing sessions, seminars and training courses, so that participants can learn about the culture, history, social features, people's way of life, latest developments, etc., in the Mainland. Separately, the YDC has earlier commenced review and enhancement work regarding the schemes for youth exchange and internship in the Mainland. Subject to the developments of the pandemic, it will arrange for the resumption and enhancement of the exchange and internship activities when it is safe and practicable to do so.
Regarding study exchange for secondary students, the EDB has been organising Mainland exchange programmes for students and subsidising those organised by schools with diverse themes and different destinations. These programmes cover different provinces and cities in the Mainland, including the GBA, to enable students to gain first-hand experience of our country's developments in aspects such as history, culture, economy, education, science and technology from multiple perspectives, deepen what they have learnt in class and broaden their horizons. Regarding life planning education, through the Business-School Partnership Programme, the EDB has encouraged different business entities and community organisations to provide career exploration activities for students to help them know more about the further studies or career prospects in neighbouring regions, including the GBA, and to secure multiple pathways. Activities including visits to enterprises in the GBA and Economic Development Zone, exchange with local entrepreneurs, etc were held before. Upon the ease of the epidemic situation and resumption of quarantine-free travel, the EDB will continue to organise related exchange activities to prepare students for future studies and work.
Besides, the EDB has been liaising with the Mainland education authorities such as Department of Education of Guangdong Province to encourage exchanges between teachers and students in Hong Kong and the Mainland through sister schools. Currently, there are more than 960 pairs of sister schools formed between Hong Kong schools and their counterparts in the GBA. Through organising various exchange activities, it deepens Hong Kong students' understanding of the GBA and promotes exchanges and friendship with students in the Mainland. With effect from the 2018/19 school year, the Government has provided a recurrent grant and professional support to each public sector and Direct Subsidy Scheme school (including special school) that has formed sister schools with its counterpart(s) in the Mainland. The EDB will continue to promote deeper and wider development of the Sister School Scheme.
Ends/Wednesday, June 15, 2022
Issued at HKT 12:42
Issued at HKT 12:42