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Inadequate workforce

According to the latest employment statistics released by the Government this afternoon, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood at 3.2 per cent in October to December 2013, signifying a good employment situation. With modest economic growth in the macro environment and the implementation of the statutory minimum wage, more and more people in the lower strata have been able to gain employment and earn a living.

Currently, total employment in Hong Kong has reached an all-time high of 3 760 400. For 2013 as a whole, total employment continued to increase significantly by 2.3 per cent. Meanwhile, the number of unemployed persons receiving Comprehensive Social Security Assistance has been decreasing for 52 consecutive months. The industries that absorbed relatively more labour in 2013 include retail as well as decoration, repair and maintenance for buildings.

Economic development and full employment should not be taken for granted. To create more jobs, the Government will continue to promote economic development vigorously, including development of industries that have a high demand for low-skilled workers.

Taking the above figures into account, the Government will continue to provide incentives for people to take up employment and become self-reliant. But we are also aware that the scope for tapping into our potential labour force is diminishing. Labour and land shortages will be two key constraints on Hong Kong's economic development. To achieve further economic growth and build a better Hong Kong to benefit more people, we must pay serious attention to the problem of inadequate workforce in addition to the issue of land shortage.

January 20, 2014