This photo taken March 13, 2023 shows a worker lowering the glass tubbing from a pawn shop neon sign in Hong Kong, south China. (PHOTO / AFP)
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government on Tuesday announced that it aims to import a maximum of 20,000 workers to the city to ease severe manpower shortages in the construction, aviation and transport industries.
Bernadette Linn Hon-ho, secretary for development of the HKSAR government, announced that the construction industry will be allowed to bring in a maximum of 12,000 workers, with the completion of public projects to be prioritized.
Lam Sai-hung, secretary for transport and logistics of the SAR government, pointed out that the quota ceiling for the transportation industry is 8,000, including 6,300 in the aviation industry and 1,700 drivers
Linn added that Hong Kong’s shortage of skilled and semi-skilled workers and technicians would increase to 40,000 in the next five years, according to Construction Industry Council projections.
Linn said that employers of the imported workers should provide accommodation in the HKSAR. For those workers coming from the Chinese mainland, employers should offer accommodation on the mainland, or allow the workers to reside in their residential premises on the mainland.
The recruitment of mainland workers should also be conducted under labor service cooperation enterprises approved by mainland authorities.
Lam Sai-hung, secretary for transport and logistics of the SAR government, pointed out that the quota ceiling for the transportation industry is 8,000, including 6,300 in the aviation industry and 1,700 drivers, comprising 900 light bus drivers and 800 bus drivers.
Lam noted that imported drivers must have a non-local driving license for at least one year and must have received local training before starting work as drivers in the SAR.
After submitting all the needed information, examinations and approvals can be completed in one to two months, Lam added.
Michael Wong Wai-lun, deputy financial secretary of the HKSAR government, said the labor importation plans for these industries are not permanent, but so far the government has not set a specific time limit on them.
He added that the government will continue to prioritize local workers' employment when implementing the importation plans. Every employer who imports workers must pay HK$400 ($51) for each of them to the Employees Retraining Board, which will use the collected funds to strengthen the training of local workers, he added.
The workers will be brought in through a special program that was previously used to import care workers. The program aims to provide greater flexibility and more streamlined procedures for importing labor.
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