LCQ14: Pilot Earn and Learn Scheme for Retail Industry
Following is a question by the Hon Ho Kai-ming and a written reply by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Edward Yau, in the Legislative Council today (April 25):
The Government, the Vocational Training Council and the Hong Kong Retail Management Association jointly launched in 2014 a Pilot Earn and Learn Scheme for the Retail Industry (Earn and Learn Scheme) to provide student-workers with an opportunity to "earn and learn" as well as a well-defined progression pathway, aiming to attract talents to join the retail industry. According to the arrangement under the Earn and Learn Scheme, if the student-workers of the Foundation Diploma (FD) programme, upon graduation, become full-time employees of the same employers as those during the training period, they will be entitled to a monthly income of not less than $11,000. It has been learnt that the first three runs of FD programme were completed between 2016 and this year, and the fourth run is underway. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it knows:
(1) in respect of the second and third runs of the FD programme respectively, (i) the number of enrollees, (ii) the number of dropouts with a breakdown by reason therefor, (iii) the number of graduates, (iv) the dates of graduation, and (v) the number of graduates who are still currently employed by the same employers as those during the training periods;
(2) the respective total numbers of positions offered by the employers participating in the Earn and Learn Scheme to the graduates of the second and third runs of the FD programme; among such positions, the respective numbers of those with a monthly basic salary of $11,000 or more and less than $11,000, and among the latter, the respective numbers of positions with a monthly basic salary (i) of less than $5,000, (ii) from $5,000 to $7,000, (iii) from $7,001 to $9,000, and (iv) of more than $9,000;
(3) among the graduates of the first to third runs of the FD programme, (i) the number of those who still work in the retail industry (with a breakdown by position and monthly income range), and (ii) the number of those who have left the retail industry (with a breakdown by reason for leaving); and
(4) the number of enrollees for the fourth run of the FD programme; when the enrolment for the courses of the fifth run will begin and when they will start?
The Earn and Learn Pilot Scheme for the Retail Industry (the Pilot Scheme), which was launched in 2014 by the Vocational Training Council (VTC) in partnership with the Hong Kong Retail Management Association (HKRMA), seeks to enable Secondary Six graduates to attend classes on campus while acquiring work experience with participating employers and receiving a Government allowance of $2,000 per month. It aims to ease the manpower strain of the retail industry and encourage aspiring youngsters to join the retail workforce.
My reply to the various parts of the question is as follows:
(1) The 2nd cohort of the Foundation Diploma (FD) programme under the Pilot Scheme commenced in September 2015, with an intake of 175 student-workers. Among them, 104 completed the programme in February 2017 and the remaining 71 had dropped out. The 3rd cohort of the FD programme (re-named as Diploma of Foundation Studies (DFS) programme in 2016) commenced in September 2016, with an intake of 72 student-workers. Among them, 38 completed the programme in March 2018 and the remaining 34 had dropped out. According to the enquiries made by VTC with the drop-outs, they left the programme for various reasons, including joining the retail workforce or other sectors full-time at an earlier stage, switching to full-time studies, having difficulties with handling both work and study requirements at the same time, other personal reasons, etc.
VTC would conduct tracking surveys on student-workers after their graduation. For the 104 graduates of the 2nd FD cohort, the first tracking survey was conducted in September 2017, with 43 responses received. Over 40 per cent of the respondents (i.e. 18 respondents) have joined the retail workforce, of which 12 respondents were employed by the companies that had provided them with the internship placements under the Pilot Scheme (including three on a full-time basis and nine on a part-time basis). The remaining six respondents were employed by other retail companies. As regards graduates of the 3rd DFS cohort who just completed the programme in March this year, since the first tracking survey will be conducted in September this year, the relevant information is not yet available for the time being.
(2) As set out in the proposal put forward by the Government when seeking funding approval for the Pilot Scheme from the Legislative Council, employers should offer a salary of no less than $11,000 per month, which may include basic salary, commission and allowances, to the graduates of the FD (now DFS) programme if they become full-time employees of the companies that have provided them with the internship placements.
According to the aforementioned tracking survey for the 2nd FD cohort graduates, for all three respondents who were employed by companies that had provided them with the internship placements, they were receiving a salary of no less than $11,000 per month, which included basic salary, commission and allowances. Their average basic salary was over $9,000. As regards graduates of the 3rd DFS cohort who just completed the programme in March this year, since the first tracking survey will be conducted in September this year, the relevant information is not yet available for the time being.
(3) For the 161 graduates of the 1st FD cohort, VTC conducted the second tracking survey in September 2017, with 61 responses received. According to these responses, about one-third (21 respondents) were working in the retail sector. About 30 per cent (18 respondents) were pursuing careers outside the retail sector, while another 30 per cent (18 respondents) were undertaking further studies. The remaining four respondents had yet to decide on a definite path they wish to take. As regards the situation on the 2nd FD and 3rd DFS cohort graduates, please refer to the reply at (1).
(4) The 4th DFS cohort under the Pilot Scheme commenced in September 2017, with an intake of 30 student-workers. Application to the 5th DFS cohort has opened. The programme is expected to commence in September 2018. We will work with VTC and HKRMA to enhance the publicity on the Pilot Scheme to schools and students who will graduate shortly.
We will also continue to do our best in taking forward and enhancing the Pilot Scheme and providing graduates with a clear articulation and career ladder, with a view to helping the retail industry bring in new blood and enhancing its professional service standards.
Ends/Wednesday, April 25, 2018