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Message from the Executive Director

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 employment market is ever changing”.  This is hardly a clichéd saying.  At the outset of 2019-20 when we were still deliberating measures to tackle the underlying threat posed by manpower shortage and shrinking workforce in the local employment market, the social incidents and outbreak of the novel coronavirus epidemic came all of a sudden and took us by surprise.  The plummeting economy triggers waves of layoff and pay cut, and the unemployment rate surges to a nine-year high.

Facing the prevailing challenges, my team and I must prepare comprehensive strategies and flexible contingency plans, and at the same time expedite the development of new courses and services, be dynamic and user-friendly in execution, more forward and innovative in promotion so as to swiftly respond to the changing market and to enhance the understanding and participation of the public in our courses and services.

In 2020-21, ERB will provide 140,000 training places and earmark 40,000 training places as reserve, representing a total of 180,000 training places and an increase of 10,000 places when compared with the provision of 2019-20.  In July 2020, ERB will launch the second tranche of the “Love Upgrading Special Scheme” with more industries covered and training courses offered. Additional training places will be provided upon substantiated needs.  If everything goes smoothly, the new statutory cap of monthly retraining allowance will be effective  in mid-2020. ERB will step up publicity to motivate the enthusiastic participation of the public.

Social groups with special needs are bearing the brunt of the rising unemployment in particular.  ERB will therefore strengthen our support to them.  In 2020-21, we will develop more dedicated courses to expand their training options and assist them in landing jobs through various support programmes.  Among these social groups, “Post-50” (people aged 50 or above) and young people are our focuses. 

In recent years, over 60,000 “Post-50” enrolled in ERB courses annually and the number keeps growing year on year.  We also witness the increasing diversity of training choices of the “Post-50” trainees and the great variety of job types and industries they are interested and willing to experience.  “Post-50” are indeed potential workforce that cannot be undermined.     

ERB will develop the “Workplace Re-entry” part-time courses and expand flexible training programmes, including the “First-Hire-Then-Train” Programme, “Modular Certificates Accumulation Scheme” and “Tailor-made Training Course for Part-timers”, etc., for the “Post-50”. To sustain the success of the “Post-50 Branding Campaign” and “Post-50” special programmes in 2019-20, we will launch the “Post-50 Internship Programme” the second time and organise the large-scale “Post-50 Roving Exhibition” to showcase the knowledge and skills of the  “Post-50” trainees learnt from the ERB courses, and encourage more “Post-50” to pursue learning for upgrading.  

In supporting young people, we believe training courses can equip them with work skills and reinforce their personal attributes to better meet the challenges at work.  In 2020-21, we will conduct market research to gauge the training and employment needs of young people, develop skills upgrading dedicated courses and feature courses relating to cultural docent and social media operation.  Training content of the “Youth Training Programme” relating to innovation and technology will be beefed up and the “Tailor-made Course on Customer Service Ambassador” will be launched.  In addition, we will pioneer the “Youth x Emerging SMEs” Expo to introduce the career prospect and job opportunities of some emerging industries to young people.  The “Work Experience Activity Series for the Youth” and “Workplace Experience Activity Series for Secondary Students” will be organised to facilitate their life planning. 

Other dedicated courses on the drawing board include internet business start-up for ethnic minorities; training for pastry cook, peer counselor and office assistant for persons with disabilities and persons recovered from work injuries; as well as baker and pastry cook training for persons in custody and persons receiving treatment in residential treatment centres. 

On support services, we will continue organising the “Work Experience Activities” in collaboration with employers of different industries. Dedicated activities will also be hosted at the “ERB Service Centre” and 37 “ERB Service Spots”.  To provide our services to more social groups with special needs, our training consultants will step up the connection with the Labour Department, Social Welfare Department, Home Affairs Department, ethnic minority student groups of tertiary institutes, and social service organisations.  

The participation of stakeholders is imperative to the effectiveness of ERB courses and services.  In 2020-21, we will reinforce partnership with employer corporations, trade associations and training bodies, and draw on the collective advice of our 19 acclaimed “Industry Consultative Networks”. “Workshop on Enhancing the Awareness Towards the Employment Needs of Social Groups with Special Needs” and industry thematic workshops will be organised on a continuous basis to facilitate fruitful exchange.

In light of the long-term development of our training courses, we will actively expand the network of training bodies and review the training body approval mechanism with a view to inviting more training bodies with quality to join.  On quality assurance, we will review to widen the service horizon of our “Practical Skills Training and Assessment Centre”. “QA Value Added Day” will also be organised to strengthen the quality assurance mechanism and culture of training bodies.

ERB always stays on the cutting edge of marketing and promotional initiatives.  In 2020-21, we will make extensive use of online and offline channels to promote our brand name, courses and services. “My ERB” Facebook Fan Page and “LOOK@erb” electronic bulletin will provide more practical tips on training and employment. The “ERB Trainees’ Skills Show Hand Show” video series and the “Smart Living” and “Smart Baby Care” animation series are being planned. 

We will continue our endeavors in developing district service network to reach out more walks of life.  In 2020-21, we will organise the “Post-50 Roving Exhibition” and “ERB Courses Road Show” in different districts.  We will also optimise the “Funding Programme for Courses and Industries” in offering district-based promotional activities, uplift the synergy effect with the “ERB Service Spots” partnering district organisations, and disseminate course and service information in the districts through more than 100 “ERB Training Net” over the territory.

In January 2020, ERB implemented a team building programme with the theme of “Design Thinking” for entire staff for the first time.  All colleagues responded with active participation and satisfaction.  In 2020-21, more training programmes will be arranged to enhance the work competencies of all levels of staff and to keep pace with the development of ERB.  In parallel, we will study the feasibility of introducing more electronic services to improve operational flow and efficiency. 

“Design thinking” is a people-oriented problem-solving methodology, by understanding human needs, seeking innovative solutions, and creating more possibilities, a methodology that I fully appreciate.  2020-21 will be my third year in ERB.  The longer I committed to my work, the more I realise the enormous mission and responsibilities entrusted to ERB.  I have high pride of being able to integrate the strengths of stakeholders and lead a devoted team to serve the members of the public.  

2020-21 will be a year filled with challenges.  As long as we are people-oriented, empathy-based, team-focused, open-minded and bold to change, ERB can definitely surmount every challenge in the future.  Come rain or shine, we will walk shoulder to shoulder with Hong Kong people to forge forward.