The 2012-13 Budget
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The 2012-13 Budget  
Budget Speech
Preserving Employment

42.       Second, we will strive to preserve employment. Overall employment in Hong Kong is largely stable with the unemployment rate standing at a relatively low level.   However,  I expect the unemployment rate to reverse its downtrend as the economy slows down.   We should therefore be well prepared so that timely measures can be taken to lessen any impact on the community when there is an upward pressure on the unemployment rate.

43.       We shall continue with the strategy which helped us tackle the 2008 financial tsunami. We shall, on the one hand, stabilise the employment market through the supportive measures for enterprises I have just mentioned, and provide suitable employment support and training directly for our working population on the other.

44.       Take the construction industry as an example. Heavy investment in infrastructure projects by this Government has brought about a substantial increase in demand for construction workers, and the employment situation has been improving in the industry.   The unemployment rate for the industry in the latest quarter is 5.2 per cent, far below the post-tsunami peak of 12.8 per cent in 2008.

45.       In 2010, I earmarked $100 million to implement various initiatives to attract more people to join the construction industry. These measures have started to deliver results. The construction workforce has grown to its present strength of more than 300 000, easing the problem of an ageing workforce and succession gap faced by the industry in recent years.  To ride the wave, I propose to earmark another $220 million to support the Construction Industry Council in enhancing manpower training.   The aim is to bring fresh blood into the industry to meet the demand of future infrastructure developments.

46.       The catering and retail industries have been providing employment opportunities for the grass roots. The Labour Department’s Recruitment Centre for the Catering Industry and Recruitment Centre for the Retail Industry will strengthen liaison with employers in both industries to better serve their recruitment needs, and disseminate up-to-date information on the employment market to job seekers. In addition, the Employees Retraining Board (ERB) will continue to provide courses to help people who are seeking employment or changing jobs to join the catering and retail trades.   Courses are also offered to employees of both trades to upgrade their skills.

47.       The Vocational Training Council will set up an International Cuisine College for people aspiring to become professional chefs in international cuisines. Apart from providing vocational training to those who wish to pursue a career in the catering industry, the College will offer multiple study pathways for youngsters.   The College, to be established with a capital expenditure of $500 million, is expected to admit its first cohort of students in the 2014/15 academic year.  It will provide more than 2 000 places a year.

48.       With the economy slowing down and the unemployment rate reversing its downtrend, certain groups of people in society will be the first to bear the brunt.   We shall soon inject $100 million into the Enhancing Employment of People with Disabilities through Small Enterprises Project, under which funding is granted to non-government organisations to set up small enterprises employing people with disabilities.   We shall continue the Youth Pre-employment Training Programme and Youth Work Experience and Training Scheme,  Employment Programme for the Middle-aged,  and Work Orientation and Placement Scheme to facilitate the employment of young people,  the middle-aged and the disabled.   These special employment programmes,  which involve an annual expenditure of $175 million,  benefit 20 000 job seekers with employment difficulties each year.

49.       The ERB will offer 130 000 training places in 2012-13, and allocate additional resources for the provision of placement-tied courses for the unemployed and people seeking employment.   Adequate resources have also been reserved for providing an additional 30 000 training places. This will enable the ERB to respond promptly to the demand from training providers for increasing or redeploying the places to meet contingencies.

50.       The Government will remain vigilant against any serious deterioration in the economic situation and its impact on employment. When necessary, we shall provide further funding to adjust and enhance the relevant employment programmes.



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