Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that Hong Kong’s manpower shortage directly affects the city’s economic growth and livelihood issues, vowing to come up with a solution to the issue.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Lam said that Hong Kong has an ageing population and several industries are facing a severe problem of labour shortage. She was responding to questions about an accident on Friday evening where a bus crash in Sham Shui Po left three dead and injured 31 others.

Carrie Lam. File photo: In-Media.

Lam said that in order to ensure the safety of bus operations, regulation on the part of the government and the full support of the bus companies was required, but not everything needed legislation.

On the broader scale, however, Lam said Hong Kong society had long been troubled by a lack of manpower.

“You can imagine, if it weren’t for the 300,000 or so domestic workers, Hong Kong would be facing a lot of problems in different areas, such as women joining the labour force, or taking care of the elderly at home. Today, in injecting manpower, half of it goes into elderly care home services. This is also an industry that faces difficulties in recruiting locals workers.”

Lam said that another was the construction industry, where the labour supply has meet the needs of the rapid development of infrastructure.

She added that the government should systematically look at the manpower shortage problems each industry faces, and look into whether technology and innovation could be a solution to these problems. “If they cannot be resolved, the government, together with the unions and the commerce chambers, have to study the ways in which Hong Kong can tackle its manpower shortage problem.”

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.