Ella Lei, trade unionist and lawmaker, yesterday called for targeted training programs for certain groups such as middle-aged jobseekers to facilitate their employment opportunities.
On the side lines of a cultural event yesterday, the lawmaker was asked about talent cultivation and enhancing professionalism in the city.
Acknowledging that the city’s unemployment and underemployment rates have dropped to low levels, the lawmaker noted that those with limited or no experience may struggle when looking for work.
Another concern is that this demographic of job seekers, despite having experience and the willingness to work, may be disadvantaged by employers who prefer a younger workforce due to a desire for team stability.
She hopes that specific training can be developed for these workers. “The government should make specific schemes – similar to the past Youth Employment Assistance Scheme – to help jobseekers with difficulties. This could be via a variety of means such as subsidizing their training or employers to improve the employment environment for this subset,” she said.
Hands-on training should also be provided in newer industries to benefit both industry workers and overall economic development.
“The government should work with the industry, training entities and institutions to operate hands-
on training in ‘1 + 4’ industries such as financial technologies, culture and tourism, as well as MICE. This will allow trainees to be imparted with new knowledge as well as opportunities to put it into practice at workplaces,” said Lei.
Although her association has not heard reports of pay rises or bonuses being denied to employees, she stressed that she hopes employees in a position to do so will achieve increased remuneration. She said that with the government, public service entities and the six casino licensees granting pay raises and/or bonuses this year, other employers are encouraged to follow suit. However, she acknowledged reports of business slowdowns at some SMEs.
“Despite the past year of post-Covid normalization, some SMEs have expressed the hope that the government will take a further lead in developing SMEs through various collaborations, allowing them to expand their businesses,” said Lei.
While acknowledging the unique pressures faced by SMEs, she encouraged business owners to capitalize on the recovery of tourism to create more favourable financial conditions that will have downstream impacts on employee remuneration.
She believes that, “provided that [SMEs] have sufficient businesses, they have conditions for better remuneration schemes.”