Chairman's Message
Chairman's Message - Multi-pronged Approach to Strengthen Hong Kong's Advantage in Manpower

Dr. Charles Yeung 【President】

Silver Bauhinia Star, JP

The consultation paper issued by the Steering Committee on Population Policy predicts that as the population is gradually aging, Hong Kong’s workforce will begin to shrink in 2018, which will have a crucial impact on the sustainability of Hong Kong’s long-term economic and social livelihood development. CGCC is pleased to see that the HKSAR Government is carrying out a comprehensive study on Hong Kong’s long-term population policy as a step towards the formulation of appropriate strategies and measures. In our position paper submitted last month on the same topic, we advocated a balance between economic and social development in devising a long-term population policy. In specific, we suggested a multi-pronged approach to boost Hong Kong’s competitive advantage, which entails coordination and planning for optimizing the labor importation mechanism, expanding the labor supply and strengthening the nurturing of local talents.

Importing Manpower Needed through Diversified Channels

Hong Kong has been pursuing a highly-open free market system, and recruiting quality talents from different places is also a key factor for our city to maintain an efficient and adaptable labor force. As Hong Kong’s unemployment rate keeps low, some trades and work are short of labor. So we think the authorities should, without prejudicing the interests of local workers, consider ways to make the labor importation mechanism more efficient and flexible, so that foreign workers can be appropriately introduced to trades hungering for extra manpower. The manpower resources so enriched can help meet the needs of Hong Kong’s overall business environment and the long-term development of the economy and industries.

As a further step, talent admission schemes should be refined to absorb specific talents that can support Hong Kong’s industry development. To attract more top talents to work in Hong Kong, sustained efforts should be made to improve our living environment and air quality, and adequate places in international schools should be ensured as well. To provide a more diversified supply of talents for industries, policy-makers should consider further relaxing the restrictions on non-local graduates to stay in Hong Kong and encourage them to stay here for work.

Maximizing Local Workforce Potential

Besides attracting foreign talents, the existing local workforce should be better utilized. Thanks to advancement in modern healthcare and education, more and more seniors are able and willing to continue with their work. We therefore believe that suitably extending the retirement age can not only maintain the existing labor supply, but also help unleash the potential of the elderly. The HKSAR Government may devise more policy incentives to encourage public organizations and business sectors to, provided that the labor laws are complied with, extend the work lives of their staff or employ retired or aged persons in a flexible manner. To this end, the Government may even take the lead by extending the retirement age of civil servants. Postponed retirement means seniors or retirees can continue contributing their valuable work experience. It also helps mitigate the impact of population aging and workforce shrinkage.

Moreover, the HKSAR Government may consider, for example, providing direct subsidies or grants and raising the child allowance as financial incentives for childbearing. It may also step up family welfare and support, and even allocate funds to set up a “baby fund” for each newborn baby. By offering extensive support to ease the financial burden of couples who need to take care of both their work and children, more working families can be available for work. Meanwhile, a higher birth rate will be positive to the stable long-term development of the labor market.

Greater Effort in Nurturing Talents

The consultation paper on population policy has put forward many ideas on cultivating the local youth and promoting vocational and continuing education. In his new Policy Address, the Chief Executive also attached much importance to the nurturing of the next generation. We agree that greater effort on nurturing local young talents is vital for upgrading the workforce quality in the long run. So we recommend that while investing resources in developing mainstream education, the administration should also enhance communication and cooperation with trades. For example, it may regularly consult various sectors to know what talents are wanted by businesses. Besides, it may also carry out more precise studies on manpower projection and improve the education-oriented job matching mechanism, ensuring that the curriculum design and internship opportunities provided in post-secondary and vocational education can meet the development needs of society and trades. In this way, more effective support can be provided for local young people to engage in a right industry or job.

In summary, a pool of quality, diversified talents is essential for the stable development of our economy. I hope that members in society would act in the overall interests of Hong Kong. While promoting economic diversification, all sectors are expected to work together to upgrade Hong Kong’s workforce and long-term competitiveness so that our economy and society can keep prospering and progressing.