The Hongkong Productivity Council has offered its expertise to help the Employees' Retraining Board improve the territory's on-the-job training scheme. THE Hongkong Productivity Council (HKPC) has helped to improve the organisation of the on-the-job training (OJT) scheme in the territory. ''We have been engaged in a very intensive dialogue with the Employees' Retraining Board,'' said the executive director of the HKPC, Mr Chan Siu-kam. ''We have been looking for improved effectiveness. ''Firstly, we have been trying to get training linked to employment opportunities. We consider this very important. Unless the two are linked, it will lead to frustration on both sides. ''Secondly, we believe that, in some of the retraining, we need to pay more attention to basic, rather than technical, skills.'' Mr Chan said there was a need in many cases to improve language skills, particularly for those entering service industries where communication was very important. Inter-personal skills were also important for the service industry, where people were dealing with people and not machinery. Thirdly, there was a need to introduce basic mathematics to the training, he said. A change of job, involving a different industry, was a psychological challenge, he said. ''Young workers can adapt, but it is the 40 to 50-year-old age group that is the most difficult. ''Not only are employers looking for a skill, they are also looking for young people.'' Mr Chan said he believed there should be co-operation from employers to help change their perception about age. Employers recruiting an office assistant, for example, should be ready to accept older workers, he said. A number of employers were changing their attitudes, but not enough, he said. ''I look at this retraining as a pilot scheme. ''If it is successful, it will persuade more employers to take part in what will be a long-term project. ''As the economy undergoes restructuring, training at a low and middle level will take on increasing importance. ''The biggest challenge facing us in the future is the changing economic environment, and the need for training - not just for young people and at the low level.''