Taking the opportunity of the Policy Address Consultation, HKIHRM put forward multiple measures that the HKSAR Government may consider implementing to make the environment more conducive to the employment of the youth, females and young-olds.
While Hong Kong has been plagued by a dwindling manpower pool and widening talent gaps, if urgent steps are not taken to halt the exodus of human capital, it would be difficult for organisations to maintain optimal manpower resources, not to mention building a talent pipeline for future development.
Since taking the helm of the Institute in June, Lawrence Hung, President of HKIHRM, has re-positioned policy advocacy as one of the priority areas in pursuit of further strengthening the institute’s influence and professional standing in the community at large. He hopes the HR perspective will be put across to different sectors and authorities, and the institute's views be permeated in the discussion and formulation of public policies, particularly those pertinent to employment, education, talent attraction and retention, as well as manpower training and development.
Spearheading this initiative, the Advocacy and Policy Research Committee co-chaired by Andy Luk, Vice President of HKIHRM, and Roy Ying, was busy putting together a submission to the Chief Executive, who will deliver his maiden Policy Address on 19 October. With a focus on human capital and youth development issues, the submission emphasised that the competitiveness and viability of Hong Kong’s economy hinges heavily on its ability to develop, recruit and retain the best talents both locally and from around the world.
Pointing out the acute brain drain problem, HKIHRM echoed society’s call for cessation of border control and quarantine measures on in-bound travels. “Hopefully, this can restore Hong Kong’s attractiveness to expatriates including those who have recently left our city due to the stringent anti-pandemic protocol adopted the Government. Hong Kong needs to take prompt actions to catch up with its competitors in returning to normalcy,” Hung remarked.
Filling talent gaps
For enlarging Hong Kong’s manpower pool, HKIHRM urged the Government to take bold steps to improve childcare services and family-friendly workplace policies, thereby motivating more women to partake in gainful employment. “Female's workforce participation ratio in Hong Kong is one of the lowest amongst developed economies. Boosting this ratio can effectively address the labor shortage situation and strengthen our talent pool,” Ying noted.
He further pointed out that the gender pay gap can be a deterrent to female employment and something must be done to address this issue. In fact, the UK has already made it mandatory for employers with a headcount of 250 or more to report and publish relevant gender pay gap information of their organisation. Hong Kong may consider introducing similar requirements as a first step to close any gap between the earnings of male and female employees.
HKIHRM also encouraged the Government to set an example to the private sector by taking the lead in re-employing more young-olds in suitable positions to draw on their experience, expertise and wisdom. Since many employers in the private sector are concerned about possible cost implications for staff insurance premiums upon employing retired persons, HKIHRM will be in contact with the Labour Department and the Insurance Authority to explore useful ways to allay their concerns.
“Future-of-Work” Index in support of youth employment
With a view to furnishing up-to-date market information in support of youth employment, HKIHRM is planning to compile a “Future-of-Work” index on an annual basis, to give students a clearer picture of the evolving trends of the job market, thus helping them to make informed choices in their academic studies. Other stakeholders may also benefit from the index. For instance, companies can refer to the index in formulating manpower development plans. Likewise, the information can be used by vocational and higher education institutions for adjusting course provision in their regular programme review.
Through its extensive connections with the education sector and professional bodies in various industries, HKIHRM will capitalise on the index to embark on training programmes in life and career planning for secondary school students and the younger generations. It will also seek policy and funding support from relevant government agencies for these training initiatives.
Update legislation to meet new employment modes
Noting the burgeoning number of young self-employed persons, especially “slashers”, under the fast expanding “gig economy” in Hong Kong, Luk reckoned that the existing employment legislation may not be able to take care of the peculiar needs of these young self-employed persons.
“In our submission, the Government was asked to review and modernise the relevant labour laws to make them befitting today’s and tomorrow’s new employment modes, and to ensure self-employed persons are accorded proper employment and retirement protection,” Luk stressed. He suggested a thorough study be undertaken by the Government to examine the applicability and validity of the Employment Ordinance’s “418 Rule” for determining whether a person is employed under a continuous contract.
Training in new MPF requirements
In view of the ongoing major reform to the regime governing MPF Schemes, HKIHRM will offer training to get HR practitioners geared up for new requirements relating to the abolition of the offsetting arrangement and execution of the proposed Designated Savings Accounts along with the Government’s 25-year subsidy scheme.
“We hope to extend the reach of our training activities to as many HR practitioners in the business community as possible. Where necessary, the Institute will approach the relevant authorities to solicit their support,” Hung noted. Besides, during the time leading to implementation of the eMPF Platform, HKIHRM will collaborate with the authorities to disseminate useful and up-to-date information about the new MPF regime for members and interested parties.
Underscoring the importance of preserving Hong Kong’s human capital to sustain prosperity, HKIHRM’s submission offered a myriad of suggestions from the HR perspective that aimed to facilitate talent acquisition and retention, as well as youth and manpower development, for the benefit of whole society.
Hung reiterated that Hong Kong faces many acute human capital issues. “The Government must act fast to halt manpower outflow and bolster support for the business community in nurturing and competing for the talents of whom Hong Kong is in dire need to drive economic growth and social development,” he concluded.