Published: 13:00, June 19, 2024 | Updated: 13:43, June 19, 2024
HK enhanced labor scheme sees 4,939 applications in 9 months
By Wang Zhan in Hong Kong
Construction workers remove a neon sign of a restaurant from a building in Hong Kong, on Aug 6, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government received 4,939 applications, as of June 6, under its Enhanced Supplementary Labour Scheme (ESLS), since its launch in September last year to alleviate manpower shortages across different sectors, the secretary for labour and welfare said on Wednesday.

The Labour Department has implemented a series of new measures to expedite the processing of applications, Chris Sun Yuk-han said while replying to a related query in the Legislative Council.

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“Upon receipt of all information required for processing and after screening-in of the applications, the Labour Department can generally complete the vetting of the applications under the ESLS within three months.”

The government will continue to closely monitor and formulate measures in the light of the supply and demand of manpower, so as to sustain the economic and social development of Hong Kong.

Chris Sun Yuk-han, Secretary for Labour and Welfare, HKSAR

The ESLS was launched on Sept 4, 2023, to enhance the coverage and operation of the Supplementary Labour Scheme (SLS), including suspending the general exclusion of the 26 job categories as well as unskilled or low-skilled posts from labor importation for two years, the secretary pointed out.

Since the introduction of the application form for common posts and application form for non-common posts on May 2, the ESLS received 699 applications, as at June 6, 2024, of which 267 were submitted by common posts application form and 31 by non-common posts application form, he added.

“The Labour Department will review the ESLS prior to the lapse of its two-year implementation period,” said Sun.

Speaking on other enhanced labor importation mechanisms, he mentioned that the Labour and Welfare Bureau introduced the Special Scheme to Import Care Workers for the Residential Care Homes on June 19, 2023, and the Development Bureau and the Transport and Logistics Bureau launched sector-specific labor importation schemes for the construction and transport sectors on July 17, 2023.

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The Care Workers Scheme has completed three rounds of quota allocation, receiving 1,261 applications, said Sun.

All applications were vetted within two months as planned, and is shorter than the vetting time of around five months for previous applications under the SLS, he added.

“The government is examining the manpower supply of and demand for care workers in the residential care home sector, and reviewing the overall quota of the Care Workers Scheme as appropriate on the premise of safeguarding the employment priority for local workers.”

Meanwhile, the Labour Importation Scheme for the Construction Sector, which accepts applications quarterly, has finished vetting the first three rounds of 77 received applications, as at May 2024, within the target of two months after the closing of the application period, he added.

The transport sector’s labor importation scheme for the aviation industry received 57 applications in the first round and second round and vetting of both rounds of applications was completed in about two weeks' time.

READ MORE: HK labor import scheme for drivers receives 118 applications

The transport sector received 118 applications for its public light bus/coach trade labor scheme in the first round and completed vetting within two months as planned, Sun added.  

 “The government will continue to closely monitor and formulate measures in the light of the supply and demand of manpower, so as to sustain the economic and social development of Hong Kong,” said the labor chief.