Low skills behind employment crisis

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 July, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 July, 2001, 12:00am

A recent survey shows unemployment in all sectors rose in Hong Kong in 2000 compared with 1999.

Teenagers and middle-aged have been hardest hit by the economic downturn; many of them are finding it increasingly difficult to find jobs.

It is a pity that the Government does not come to grips with the problem. Why do people lose their jobs?

Lack of appropriate skills is the main contributor to the problem; as computers become a part of every workplace, many employees demand their workers to be knowledgeable in word processing and able to use both Chinese and English windows.

Some are even required to learn to type quickly, otherwise their chance of being hired is almost zero. Nevertheless, many teenagers don't know how to use computers even though they may have a PC at home, where they are used to play games, listen to music, watch films and ICQ, rather than for learning purposes.

In order to meet Hong Kong's desire for hi-tech development, much work has to be done to promote the culture of using computers in education.

For example, the Government could launch programmes to help young people to learn more computer skills.

In that way, youngsters would grow up to be 'computer literate' and their chances of finding a job would be higher than before.

Reports indicate there are 700,000 unskilled workers aged between 40 and 50 and their jobs could be threatened after China enters the World Trade Organisation.

In order to enhance the competitiveness in our society, it is a must for them to acquire an in-depth knowledge of what computers are.

Self-learning is of vital importance. The middle-aged can buy some computer reference books from bookshops. When they have any problems they can ask someone for help.

On the other hand, a large number of service-sector jobs require sales people who can speak English fluently. As we all know, English is the international business language and can be spoken by the majority of people in the world.

Proficiency in oral English means having a higher chance of finding jobs. There are pressing reasons for the Government to develop a new labour policy to provide retraining for poorly educated workers so as to head off any possible social unrest.

Are you prepared to see more and more people losing their jobs? Of course not; it is time the Government did something about it, otherwise, the unemployed will protest against the Government by taking to the streets. Some may even resort to robbery or other unlawful means in order to fill their rice bowl.

On-ting is a seventh former at St Margaret's Girl's College in Mongkok

Graphic: perspglo