LCQ10: Manpower situation of elderly service sector


Hong Kong (HKSAR) -      Following is a question by the Hon Kwok Wai-keung and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Dr Law Chi-kwong, in the Legislative Council today (December 6):

Question:

     With an ageing population, the demand for elderly services has increased substantially in Hong Kong.  The Government has earlier pointed out that the vacancy rate of some care staff now stands as high as 18 per cent.  Besides, as shown in statistics, the current average age of care workers is about 55, reflecting the situation of "the elderly taking care of the elderly".  The Chief Executive indicated in the Policy Address she delivered in October this year that on the premise that local workers' priority for employment would be safeguarded, the Government would explore with stakeholders the possibility of increasing imported workers for the elderly service sector on an appropriate and limited scale.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the number of workers imported in each of the past three years by the elderly service sector under the Supplementary Labour Scheme, together with breakdowns by the country from which the workers came, the positions they held, their average age, their average monthly wage, their average weekly working hours as well as their qualification and experience;

(2) whether it knows the current number of local employees in the elderly service sector across the territory, with breakdowns, by the age group (i.e. 15 to 24, 25 to 34, 35 to 44, 45 to 54, and 55 years old or above) and occupational group to which they belong, their gender and educational attainment, and whether or not they are in full-time employment, of the (i) number, (ii) median weekly working hours and (iii) median monthly wage of such employees;

(3) whether it knows the number of training courses relating to the elderly service sector which were organised in the past five years by various relevant vocational training organisations (including the Vocational Training Council, the Employees Retraining Board, etc.), and set out the following information on such courses: (i) course title, (ii) course type, (iii) professional fields (such as health care and residential care), (iv) mode of study or training period, (v) the estimated and actual numbers of students admitted, (vi) the number of students who completed the courses or training, and (vii) the percentage of students who were employed by the elderly service sector upon completion of the relevant courses or training; and

(4) of the latest progress of the Navigation Scheme for Young Persons in Care Services, which was launched in July 2015 by the Social Welfare Department to encourage young persons to join the elderly service sector; the respective rates of participation and withdrawal since the launch of the Scheme; the number of students completed the two-year part-time course first offered; whether the authorities will review and improve the remuneration package of the students to increase the attractiveness of the Scheme?

Reply:

President,

     The Government is very concerned about the manpower situation of the social welfare sector, and has implemented a number of measures to enhance the supply of front-line care staff and improve their work prospects.  The measures include implementing Qualifications Framework (QF) in the elderly service sector, organising the Enrolled Nurse Training Programme for the social welfare sector, implementing the Navigation Scheme for Young Persons in Care Services (Navigation Scheme), etc.  In addition, the 2017 Policy Agenda has proposed new measures to improve the manpower situation of the elderly service sector, which include increasing the salaries of front-line care staff and launching a five-year scheme to provide full subsidies for home managers, health workers and care workers of all residential care homes for the elderly (RCHEs) and residential care homes for persons with disabilities in the territory to enrol in QF-based training courses.

     My reply to the Member's question is as follows:

(1) In 2014, 2015 and 2016, approval was given to private RCHEs under the Supplementary Labour Scheme (SLS) for the importation of 1 377, 1 035 and 1 383 workers respectively and all of them are engaged as Care Workers (Elderly Service).  The Labour Department has no information on the country of origin, average age, average monthly wage, average weekly working hours or qualifications of imported Care Workers (Elderly Service) employed by employers.  However, according to the requirements under SLS, employers should pay wages to imported workers at a level no less than the median monthly wages of local workers in comparable positions.  According to statistics of the Census and Statistics Department, the median monthly wage of local Care Workers (Elderly Service) is currently $12,000 (nine hours of work (excluding meal break) per working day). 

(2) The Social Welfare Department (SWD) does not have the number of local employees in the elderly service sector across the territory by the age group, gender, educational attainment, whether or not they are in full-time employment or occupational group, median weekly working hours or median monthly wage.

(3) Information on vocational education and training courses relating to the elderly service sector organised by the Employees Retraining Board and the Vocational Training Council in the past five years is at Annex.  SWD does not have information on courses relating to the elderly service sector organised by other training institutions.

(4) SWD launched the Navigation Scheme in July 2015, providing a total of 1 000 training places by batches starting from 2015-16, to encourage young people to join the elderly and rehabilitation care services.  Apart from receiving on-the-job training in elderly or rehabilitation service units, young people participating in the Navigation Scheme are provided with subsidises from the Government to pursue a two-year part-time diploma course.  The Navigation Scheme is still in progress at present. 

     As at end-October 2017, a total of 851 trainees had been recruited by the five operating agencies selected by SWD and 266 of them had left the Navigation Scheme.  Among the trainees recruited in the first year (2015-16), it is estimated that 106 trainees will graduate after completing the two-year part-time course (99 of which graduated in September or October 2017 and another seven will graduate in the first quarter of 2018 after completing the course).

     Prior to the launch of the Navigation Scheme, SWD had issued guidelines to the operating agencies on various implementation details including salary packages that cover increments and promotion arrangements for the trainees.  SWD also exchanges views with the operating agencies on the progress of implementation and effectiveness of the Navigation Scheme through regular meetings with them, so as to ensure that the arrangements of individual agencies are consistent in meeting the objectives of the Scheme.  SWD will continue to keep in view the effectiveness of the Navigation Scheme.



Published on: 2017-12-06

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