Unemployment is a great concern to the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and the government is taking steps to ease the jobless situation, said a Hong Kong official Tuesday.
Permanent Secretary for Economic Development and Labor Matthew Cheung said the government put forward a relief package of 432 million Hong Kong dollars (55.38 million US dollars) in May to provide 21,500 short-term employment and training opportunities.
These included 10,000 skills-enhancement training places for workers in sectors hard hit by SARS who were unemployed or temporarily suspended without pay. All the newly-created posts have been filled.
Cheung said the government allocated an additional 715 million Hong Kong dollars in July to create 32,000 job opportunities, including 19,050 short-term jobs and 13,000 training places. Recruitment work commenced in mid-July and successful candidates are starting to report for duty.
The Labor Department has launched employment programs to strengthen its support for job-seekers. The Re-employment Training Program encourages employers to offer on-the-job training to middle-aged unemployed people.
Employers receive a training allowance of 1,500 Hong Kong dollars a month for each participant employed for three months. Some 12,000 job seekers are expected to benefit from the program.
Employers who hire university graduates and provide them with on-the-job training under the Graduate Employment Training Scheme will be paid a monthly allowance of 2,000 Hong Kong dollars for each trainee engaged for a maximum of six months. About 2,000 university graduates will benefit from the program.
"All these demonstrate that the government is committed to providing comprehensive employment assistance to job seekers of different age groups and academic qualifications," Cheung said.
He noted that there were signs of a steady pick-up in a number of business sectors. The latest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose by just 0.1 percent and there are signs that the upward adjustment is slowing down.
"With fresh graduates entering the labor market, the unemployment rate in the short term will remain high. Although most companies are still having a hard time now, it is high time to invest in human resources to prepare for economic recovery," Cheung said.