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LCQ17: "First-hire-then-train" on-the-job training schemes
     Following is a question by Dr the Hon Ngan Man-yu and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Chris Sun, in the Legislative Council today (June 7):


     Regarding the on-the-job training schemes implemented by the Construction Industry Council and the Employees Retraining Board on a "first-hire-then-train" basis, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether it knows the following information in respect of the on-the-job training schemes organised by the aforesaid two organisations in the past three years: (i) course contents, (ii) course nature, (iii) the number of course places, (iv) enrolment situation of the courses (including the ratio of places to actual enrolments), (v) the expenditure involved, (vi) staffing establishment, (vii) the number of trainees who participated in the schemes, (viii) the number and proportion of trainees who withdrew before completing the schemes, and (ix) the number and proportion of trainees who completed the schemes;

(2) whether it has compiled statistics on the number of trainees who eventually joined the relevant industries after completing the schemes; and

(3) as there are views pointing out that the effectiveness of the schemes has begun to diminish significantly in recent years, and there has even been a situation of under-enrolment, whether the authorities have plans to comprehensively assess the effectiveness of the schemes and enhance the contents of the schemes, including raising the level of training allowance, adjusting the training contents and introducing more popular industries under the schemes, etc.; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     In consultation with the Development Bureau, the consolidated reply to the Member's question is as follows:

(1) and (2) Both the Construction Industry Council (CIC) and the Employees Retraining Board (ERB) provide on-the-job training schemes in "first-hire-then-train" mode.

     Under the "first-hire-then-train" courses provided by the CIC, contractors will first hire trainees to work in their construction sites, and jointly with the CIC, provide campus training and on-site training to enable trainees to acquire the relevant skills and craftsmanship. Upon completion of training, trainees will be arranged to take trade tests. Trainees passing the tests will attain the qualifications of a semi-skilled or skilled worker. So far, the CIC has implemented the "first-hire-then-train" scheme for over 50 trades. In the past three years, the "first-hire-then-train" courses provided by the CIC included the "Intermediate Tradesman Collaborative Training Scheme", the "Approved Technical Talents Training Programme" and the "Advanced Construction Manpower Training Scheme - Pilot Scheme (Structured On-the-job)" (Note 1). The duration of these training courses range from six months to two years. In addition, the CIC also offers skill enhancement and site supervision courses, facilitating industry practitioners' further development and career advancement.

Note 1: Application period for the "Advanced Construction Manpower Training Scheme - Pilot Scheme (Structured On-the-job)" ended on January 1, 2023. Future applicants are referred to the "Approved Technical Talents Training Programme" instead.

     The ERB's "First-Hire-Then-Train" Scheme aims to encourage the latent workforce to enter the employment market to assist in alleviating the manpower shortage in the employment market. Target participants of the Scheme are mainly women and homemakers. Participating employers will suitably modify the working hours (including flexible hours and part-time positions) and leave arrangements to cater for the family commitment needs of trainees and provide on-the-job training and related support measures to encourage them to stay in employment. The training bodies appointed by the ERB will assist employers in recruitment and provide employed trainees with designated training courses to enable them to master relevant working skills and knowledge, assisting them to stay in the relevant jobs. In the past three years, jobs provided by participating employers included care workers for residential care homes, tunnel traffic control officers and cleaning assistants.

     In the past three years, relevant details of the on-the-job training schemes in "first-hire-then-train" mode provided by the CIC and the ERB are as follows:
  Construction Industry Council Employees Retraining Board
Year (Note 2) 2020/21 2021/22 2022/23 2020/21 2021/22 2022/23
Number of allocated training places (Note 3) 2 746 2 018 2 022 58 149 98
Number of applied trainees (proportion) 1 086 (40%) 1 048 (52%) 1 632 (81%) 49 (84%) 125 (84%) 87 (89%)
Number of enrolled trainees 1 063 1 033 1 524 49 125 87
Number of trainees who had completed the Scheme (proportion to enrolled trainees) 742 (32 trainees still undergoing a 2-year training) 632 (196 trainees still undergoing a 2-year training) 331 (1 012 trainees still undergoing training) 44 (90%) 111 (89%) 73 (84%)
Number of trainees who had not completed the Scheme (proportion to enrolled trainees) 289 (27%) 205 (20%) 181 (Note 4) (12%) 5 (10%) 14 (11%) 14 (16%)
Number of trainees who had joined the related industries (Note 5) 1 063 1 033 1 524 49 125 87
Expenditure incurred ($) 75 million 84 million 110 million Not applicable (Note 6)
Staffing establishment (Note 7) Not applicable Not applicable
Note 2: The CIC's data is presented in academic year (AY) (i.e. from September to August of next year), and the data of the AY 2022/23 is up to end-May 2023; while the ERB's data is based on financial year (FY) (i.e. from April to March of next year), and the data of the FY 2022/23 is up to end-March 2023.
Note 3: Training places are equivalent to the number of vacancies offered by participating employers.
Note 4: The main reasons for trainees being unable to complete the training schemes included job changes, health reasons and taking care of families, etc. Due to the impact of the epidemic, the proportion of trainees who was unable to complete the scheme in AY 2020/21 and AY 2021/22 was relatively high.
Note 5: Under the Scheme, the employers are required to first employ the trainees, then arrange trainees that have secured employment to receive on-the-job training. Therefore, they are regarded to have already joined the industries.
Note 6: The Scheme is absorbed within the ERB's overall operating expenses, and the ERB has not maintained the relevant breakdown.
Note 7: Staff of the CIC and the ERB responsible for the different collaborative training schemes are also responsible for other training courses, therefore the relevant data are not available.

(3) For the training schemes provided by the CIC, the enrollment numbers have been increasing in the past three years. The enrollment figure for the first nine months (i.e. from September 2022 to May 2023) in AY 2022/23 (1 524) already exceeded that of the full year of AY 2021/22 (1 033) by 48 per cent. The overall outcome is satisfactory. Having considered the increasing demand of the construction industry for skilled workers in future, the Government provided a further $1 billion funding to the CIC last year to subsidise a total of about 27 000 training places of the CIC in the next six years from 2022. The funding supports the CIC to increase the number of training places and the amount of allowance of its existing training programmes with a view to attracting and training more new blood to join the construction industry and upskilling and retaining in-service workers.

     In order to uplift the skills of the practitioners and attract more young people to join the construction industry, the CIC will continue to introduce more innovative technology elements into its training courses, for example, Building Information Modelling, Modular Integrated Construction method and the application of robotics, etc. In addition, the Development Bureau is working with the CIC and the industry to implement the Hong Kong Construction Industry Joint Promotion Campaign to promote the professional image and the career ladders of different professional fields of the construction industry. The CIC will continue to implement the "first-hire-then-train" schemes, and collaborate with various organisations, including trade unions, to strengthen the recruitment and training of trainees, and endeavour to attract and train more new blood and upskill in-service workers to meet the manpower demand of the construction industry in future.

     The enrollment in the ERB's "First-Hire-Then-Train" Scheme was largely stable in recent years, with the number of enrolled trainees depending mainly on the job positions offered by the participating employers. To ensure that the Scheme meets the needs of the industries and trainees, the ERB reviews the effectiveness of the Scheme with relevant stakeholders from the industries from time to time, including the implementation progress, course content and publicity channels, etc., with a view to attracting more employers and job seekers to participate in the Scheme. Apart from the above Scheme, the ERB currently offers about 700 regular courses straddling 28 industries that are market-driven and employment-oriented, providing over 100 000 training places annually for eligible employees aged 15 or above to enroll in.
Ends/Wednesday, June 7, 2023
Issued at HKT 11:58
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