31st May 2023 – (Hong Kong) The Hong Kong government is paying close attention to the shortage of bus and minibus drivers in the transport sector, which has affected the daily lives of members of the public. To address the issue, the government has actively taken forward various initiatives to assist the relevant trades in their recruitment efforts, including relaxing the requirements for applying for a commercial vehicle driving license, collaborating with the relevant trades to participate in different employment schemes, launching training programs along with training subsidies and allowances, and facilitating the trades to diversify their recruitment channels.
In response to a question raised by the Hon Holden Chow in the Legislative Council today, the Secretary for Transport and Logistics, Mr. Lam Sai-hung, informed the council that the government is encouraging public transport operators to improve staff welfare through enhancement of remuneration and benefits and adopting more flexible employment terms. These measures aim to create a better work environment and attract new entrants, including women and young people, to the trades.
Mr. Lam further stated that the government has been implementing a range of measures to identify and unleash potential labor force, including the provision of comprehensive employment services to job seekers and employers of different sectors, such as public transport operators, to assist them in recruiting employees. The government also encourages employers to hire the elderly and middle-aged, who are aged 40 or above, to take up full-time or part-time jobs and provide them with on-the-job training throughthe Employment Programme for the Elderly and Middle-aged. The program also provides an OJT allowance to those who participate.
To encourage women and homemakers to join the employment market, the Employees Retraining Board (ERB) implements the “First-Hire-Then-Train” scheme. This initiative encourages employers to provide suitable job vacancies and modify working hours, including flexible hours and part-time positions, to cater to the family commitment needs of trainees. The program also provides OJT and other related support measures to attract women and homemakers to join the employment market.
The Hong Kong government is also exploring the possibility of public transport operators participating in the ERB’s “First-Hire-Then-Train” scheme. Currently, some public transport operators provide paid maternity and paternity leaves to their employees, scholarships to employees’ children, free rides, and medical benefits to employees’ family members. Additionally, some operators allow drivers to work on a five-day week, half-time, or part-time basis to accommodate those who prefer flexible employment or need to reserve time for attending to family commitments. Full-time drivers who work on a five-day week, as well as half-time drivers, are also entitled to fringe benefits provided by operators.