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LCQ11: Solving the problem of manpower shortage
     Following is a question by the Hon Shiu Ka-fai and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Chris Sun, in the Legislative Council today (February 15):


     The Chief Executive (CE) has indicated in the 2022 Policy Address that many sectors in Hong Kong are facing manpower shortages, and relevant bureaux will listen to the views of the sectors and put forward solutions having regard to the situation of individual sectors. In addition, in reply to my question raised at the Question and Answer Session of this Council on January 19 this year, CE indicated that for the employment of foreign workers in 13 industries or categories with manpower shortage, there had been no need to conduct prior local recruitment in order to prove the recruitment difficulties, and that CE had requested the 15 policy bureaux to conduct studies and submit reports on whether there was room for expansion in respect of importation of foreign workers for the 13 industries or categories (the studies). In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the industries in respect of which the relevant policy bureaux will put forward solutions to the problem of manpower shortage, as well as the timetable for putting forward the solutions and the contents of such solutions (if any);

(2) of the 13 industries or categories involved in the studies, and when the 15 policy bureaux will submit the reports on the studies to CE; and

(3) as it is learnt that the Secretary for Labour and Welfare (the Secretary) visited Singapore in early January this year, whether the Secretary has gained from the authorities in Singapore a detailed understanding of the local policy and situation on labour importation, including the reasons for importing labour and the benefits brought about by it; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     My reply to the question raised by the Member is as follows:

(1) The Chief Executive mentioned in the 2022 Policy Address that many sectors in Hong Kong are facing manpower shortages. Relevant policy bureaux will listen to the views of the industries and formulate solutions with regard to their situation.

     Insofar as the Labour and Welfare Bureau (LWB) is concerned, we have formulated a special scheme to import care workers for residential care homes (RCHs) to address the acute shortage of care workers in the RCH sector by providing greater flexibility and more streamlined procedures to import care workers. We have consulted industry stakeholders on the implementation aspects of the Special Scheme, with a view to launching it in the second quarter of 2023.

     Regarding the construction industry, the Construction Industry Council released the latest Construction Manpower Forecast last week. The Development Bureau (DEVB) has indicated that it would make reference to the forecast data and assess how to enhance manpower supply through a multi-pronged strategy including leveraging local manpower resources, enhancing training and bringing in non-local resources as necessary, as well as reducing manpower needs through productivity uplifting measures. The DEVB's target is to present the assessment and a holistic strategy for addressing manpower needs of the construction sector by mid-2023.

(2) The Government launched a series of measures trawling for talents on December 28, 2022, including streamlining the General Employment Policy and the Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals, such that for vacancies falling under the 13 professions with shortage of local supply as listed in the Talent List, employers are not required to provide proof to substantiate their difficulties in local recruitment in making applications for talent admission. The 13 professions currently under the Talent List are listed below:

(i) Professionals in compliance in asset management;
(ii) Financial professionals in environmental, social and governance (ESG);
(iii) Waste treatment specialists;
(iv) Asset management professionals;
(v) Marine insurance professionals;
(vi) Actuaries;
(vii) Fintech professionals;
(viii) Data scientists and cyber security specialists;
(ix) Innovation and technology experts;
(x) Naval architects;
(xi) Marine engineers and superintendents of ships;
(xii) Creative industries and performing arts professionals; and
(xiii) Dispute resolution professionals and transactional lawyers.

     To reflect the latest shortage situation in various professions, the Government has commenced a new round of review of the Talent List following the promulgation of the 2022 Policy Address. All relevant bureaux and departments have been invited to conduct research and consult industry bodies and stakeholders of their responsible sectors. The LWB co-ordinates the review of the Talent List and is now consolidating the updates suggested by relevant sectors, with a view to completing the review by end-March 2023.

(3) The Government draws reference from the experience of other countries and places from time to time. Having regard to the different circumstances of demography, economy and industry structure, etc of various places, the Government reviews and formulates the policy of labour importation that suits the needs of Hong Kong. On the premise of safeguarding the employment priority for local workers, the Government allows increasing the number of imported workers on an appropriate and regulated basis, with a view to alleviating the shortage of manpower in individual sectors/job categories. Employers may apply to the Labour Department on account of their actual operational circumstances for importation of labour at technician level or below under the Supplementary Labour Scheme so as to supplement skills not readily available in the local labour market.
Ends/Wednesday, February 15, 2023
Issued at HKT 11:06
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