Published: 17:58, May 25, 2023 | Updated: 21:03, May 25, 2023
HK plans to import over 10,000 workers to ease labor crunch
By Mike Gu in Hong Kong

This photo taken March 13, 2023, in Hong Kong shows a worker lowering the glass tubbing from a neon sign. (PHOTO / AFP)

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government plans to import over 10,000 workers to address the severe manpower shortages in the construction, aviation and transportation sectors, according to local media reports.

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 overseas labor.

The government is expected to make an announcement regarding the plan as early as the middle of next month, according to the reports.

The workers to be imported will include steel benders, scaffolders, airport ground crews, aircraft maintenance engineers and baggage handlers, and hundreds of drivers of tour buses and minibuses. 

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According to the current regulations, the wages of imported workers must be higher than the median income for each industry, to protect the employment of local workers.

Chow believes that the HKSAR government should also consider importing taxi drivers in the next step, saying that the aging population in Hong Kong will make the lack of taxi drivers an increasingly prominent concern

Frankie Yick Chi-ming, a lawmaker who represents the transport industry, said that the entire shipping and transportation sectors are seriously short of workers. 

According to Yick, some overseas airlines said that their flying plans for Hong Kong  this winter had been approved by the Civil Aviation Department of the HKSAR government, but had not been implemented due to the shortage of ground service workers at Hong Kong International Airport. 

A manpower forecast report released by Hong Kong’s Construction Industry Council in February estimated that the shortage of skilled workers in the city will increase from about 10,000 this year to about 40,000 in 2027.

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Chow Kwok-keung, chairman of the Hong Kong Taxi & PLB Association, said that he supported the plan to import external workers due to the aging and severe shortage of minibus drivers in Hong Kong. 

Chow believes that the HKSAR government should also consider importing taxi drivers in the next step, saying that the aging population in Hong Kong will make the lack of taxi drivers an increasingly prominent concern.

Lam Chun-sing, president of the Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions, said he worried that importing labor will affect the welfare of local employees, as there will be less room for upward adjustments to the salaries of local employees with the influx of new workers.

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According to the Hong Kong Construction Industry Employees General Union, more than 80 percent of the 600 local workers recently interviewed by questionnaire opposed the plan to import outside workers, and about 77 percent thought the move would cause local workers to lose their jobs. 

Wong Ping, chairman of the Hong Kong Construction Industry Employees General Union, suggested that the government should launch construction projects in an orderly manner so as to ease the lack of manpower in the industry. 

Contact the writer at mikegu@chinadailyhk.com