Despite anticipated small growth in the shipbuilding, ship repair and offshore engineering industries, there is an urgent need for training of new staff to meet Hongkong's existing and future manpower demands, according to a survey. Conducted by the Vocational Training Council's Shipbuilding, Ship Repair and Offshore Engineering Industry Training Board, the survey points out the loss of skilled manpower to other economic sectors and the difficulties most employers face in recruitingyoung people to fill the vacant posts. According to the survey, the total work force had decreased from 6,661 in 1990 to 6,034 last year. The number of reported vacancies was 464 representing a 7.7 per cent vacancy rate of the workforce. Most vacancies had arisen from experienced workers, mainly craftsmen, leaving the industry to join other industries which offered better employment conditions. The 12.2 per cent average annual drop in manpower in the ocean-going ships sector was attributed to the decline of worldwide ship repair activities due to recession in major developed countries, high turnover of skilled workers and loss of repair orders to competitive neighbouring countries. However, the impact of global downturn on this sector could be reduced by the increase in sea-home transport to and from Hongkong and the participation of shipyards in Government's port and airport development projects. The training board forecasts that ship repair activities will be re-invigorated gradually in the next few years. The Hongkong craft sector had an insignificant average annual drop in manpower of 1.2 per cent. The training board is optimistic of the business outlook of this sector in the next few years, in view of the speedy economic growth in the Pearl River delta creating great demand for river trade vessels for cargo and passenger transport between Hongkong and China. The pleasure craft sector had an average annual drop of 13.6 per cent in manpower, while the wooden vessels sector had an increase of 3.8 per cent. Most employers are of the view that construction and repair activities may, at best, remain at the present level in the coming few years. Having considered the business outlook and the need to replace those leaving the industry, the training board forecasts that the industry would require an additional 45 technologists, 60 technicians and 250 craftsmen annually in the next decade. The board notes that general working conditions and career prospects should be improved to attract sufficient young people to join the industry. Employers are urged to make use of the Engineering Graduate Training Scheme and the Apprenticeship Scheme, both administered by the Vocational Training Council, to train their required technologists and craftsmen.