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Executive Director’s Message

The photo of Mr. Byron NG Kwok-keung, BBS, Executive Director of the Employees Retraining Board

Byron NG Kwok-keung, BBS
Executive Director
Employees Retraining Board 

The Employees Retraining Board (ERB) has witnessed a fruitful year of 2018-19.  Under the management framework of the “Three-year Strategic Plan” for 2018-19 to 2020-21, the Executive Office has achieved notable results in many work areas for the first year.  In the year, a historical high of about 127,000 trainees were admitted to ERB courses, among whom, another record high of some 58,000 trainees pursued skills upgrading courses, denoting the increasing awareness of the public towards the benefits of training and upgrading to their personal and career development, as well as recognition of the quality and value of ERB courses.  In addition, our “VIP Trainee and Employee” Reality Show launched in 2018-19 has won three significant international and local awards.  We are thrilled that our innovative and proactive promotional strategies have borne fruit.

Notwithstanding these achievements, we will not be complacent nor slacken off amid a multitude of challenges faced by the global and local economies.  With the expected shrinking workforce and labour participation rate after reaching respective peaks in the years to come, the prevailing problem of manpower shortage in the local employment market may escalate into a mid-term threat or even a long-term crisis.

It is my firm belief that “TEAM” plays a determining role in overcoming adversities and heading for success.  There is a saying that God makes every human being unique so that we can collaborate and complement each other.  “Teamwork” is the management philosophy to which I adhere, and I would thus like to borrow the four letters of “TEAM” to frame the work plan of ERB in 2019-20.

T - Training: Training service is the core duty of ERB.  In 2019-20, we will increase the provision of training places to 140,000, among which, about 52,400 training places are for placement-tied courses, and 87,600 for skills upgrading and generic skills training.  In order to promptly react to possible changes in the society and the employment market, we have also earmarked an additional 30,000 training places as reserve.

We will continue to tailor-make new training courses for sectors encountering labour shortage, including healthcare services, hotel, logistics, education and recreation, electrical and mechanical services, as well as insurance industries.  Besides, in line with the visions outlined in the “Smart City Blueprint for Hong Kong”, new courses pertaining to information technology security, cloud computing and block chain, etc. are on the drawing board.

To further our support for social groups with special needs, we will develop more dedicated training courses, and expand the “First-Hire-Then-Train” Programme, “Modular Certificates Accumulation Scheme” and “Tailor-made Training Course for Part-timers” to cover more industries and job types, with a view to enhancing their training and employment opportunities and unleashing the latent workforce.

In another vein, we will dovetail with the development of the “Qualifications Framework” (QF) to spearhead the course development work, and conduct thematic surveys in support of the Government’s policy initiatives and the skill-based training needs of individual industries.  We also plan to produce online self-learning materials and organise industry thematic workshops, so as to facilitate practitioners to further their studies after work.

E - Empowerment: ERB courses are always market-driven and employment-oriented.  To this end, we are committed to improving our training and employment support services.  Our “Work Experience Activities” are popular among social groups with special needs.  In 2019-20, “ERB Service Centres” and “ERB Service Spots” will continue to organise “Workplace Re-entry” activity series and dedicated activities.  Workshops on career planning, industry seminars and taster courses will be offered to help different social groups better understand the prevailing market situation and prepare themselves for employment.  Upper secondary students, students of ethnic minority origin and special schools as well as sub-degree students are welcome to join our work experience activities, including “Career Talks for Schools”, “Company Visits” and “Workshops on Job Search and Interviewing Skills”, etc., to enhance their understanding of different industries and to facilitate their planning of career pathway.

Participation of employers and industries is indispensable in promoting the employment opportunities of our trainees.  In 2019-20, we will strengthen our connection and collaboration with industries and implement a wide array of employer services.  We will review the modus operandi of “Industry Consultative Networks”, extend the support network of Technical Advisors, introduce the “Status Upgrading Mechanism” to the “ERB Manpower Developer Award Scheme” and launch its 10th anniversary promotional campaign, promote the “Services for Small and Medium Enterprises”, and publish the quarterly electronic “Employer Newsletter”, etc.

At the same time, we will strive to develop district service network.  In collaboration with district organisations, altogether 37 “ERB Service Spots” and 120 ERB Training Net course search terminals will be set up over the territory, facilitating residents to easily get hold of our service information in different districts.

In 2019-20, we will make wider use of social media and on-line platforms for publicity, launch the “My ERB” Facebook Fan Page in a new look, execute large-scale Facebook promotional campaigns, and publish the monthly electronic bulletin “LOOK@erb” to disseminate more useful training and employment information to the public.

A - Assurance of quality: Quality assurance is imperative to optimise the effectiveness of training.  In this regard, ERB spares no effort to continue improving our quality assurance mechanism.  Projects in the pipeline include the formulation of the “ERB Quality Assurance Manual” and a study on the feasibility of our “Practical Skills Training and Assessment Centre” (PSTAC) to apply for recognition of professional qualifications under QF in providing through-train service for people to attain recognised qualifications after passing the assessment of PSTAC.  We will work in tandem with the development of QF to arrange training courses with market demand for accreditation and re-accreditation.  In 2019-20, we will approach the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications for another new round of application for the “Programme Area Accreditation” status.

To uplift course and service quality, a host of improvement measures pertaining to course administration will be rolled out.  These include reviewing the course fee charging system of non-placement-tied courses and restrictions on re-taking this category of courses, streamlining course application procedures, etc., thereby facilitating the public to enrol in ERB training courses.  In respect of employment services, the “Smart Living” mobile apps will be launched to follow the general practice in acquiring information through mobile devices and to enhance the overall efficiency in referral.

M - Management: Strengthening the corporate governance as well as staff training and development is one of our priority tasks.  In 2019-20, the Internal Audit Section will carry out audit exercises to review the internal control systems of various mechanisms and workflow and to ensure cost effectiveness.  We will continue upgrading our IT system to meet the data management requirements of our courses and services.  We will also study the feasibility of digitalising administrative procedures, with an aim to streamline workflow, enhance service outcomes and operational efficiency.

As close partners of ERB, training bodies form an integral part of our endeavor in strengthening governance.  In 2019-20, we will step up exchanges and partnership with training bodies, to cooperate in various work areas and to intensify the synergy effect in publicity in particular.  A series of staff training programmes will be organised to upgrade the work skills and foster team spirit to cope with the sustainable development of ERB on one hand and to empower team members to further their careers on the other.

Tough times dont last, tough teams do.”  2019-20 is a year full of challenges, which also test our determination and competencies in riding the storm.  I have full confidence in my team.  We will maintain our commitment, uphold our positions and do the best of our jobs, demonstrating the mission and functions of ERB in keeping pace with the times.  As always, ERB will stand shoulder to shoulder with Hong Kong people to embrace every challenge and create greater opportunities for a better future.