Speech at Panel on Commerce and Industry

Latest development of the testing and certification industry

Industry profile

Mr CHAN Chun-ying said that according to the figures provided in the Administration’s paper, the number of local private independent establishments engaging in testing, inspection and certification activities (“T&C establishments”) had increased by 20% from 640 to 770 between 2015 and 2019 but the number of persons engaged had increased only by around 9% over the same period. He asked whether the Administration had identified the reasons behind such a difference.

SG, HKCTC replied that in 2019, 730 of 770 local private T&C establishments were SMEs which engaged less than 50 employees, whereas the remaining 40 establishments each engaged 50 or more employees. As the number of large T&C establishments remained relatively stable in the past few years, the average number of persons engaged by each T&C establishments fell with the growth in the number of small and medium T&C establishments.

Mr CHAN Chun-ying asked whether the Administration had explored why the business receipts of medical testing had declined by $448 million in 2019. Commissioner for Innovation and Technology (“CIT”) advised that medical testing covered blood test, urinalysis, microbiology, bacteriology and imaging services. The social incidents in 2019 had deterred Mainland residents from visiting Hong Kong for medical testing, which was believed to be one of the major causes of the decline in the business receipts of medical testing in that year. Looking ahead, it was hoped that the revenue generated from medical testing would rebound after the resumption of cross-boundary travel between Hong Kong and Guangdong/Macao.

Manpower development

Mr CHAN Chun-ying asked about the percentage of the first batch of graduates of the Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Analytical Sciences for Testing and Certification programme offered by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University who had actually engaged in the T&C field upon graduation in 2019. As talent was the key to the development of Hong Kong’s T&C industry, Mr CHAN suggested that tertiary institutions might consider inviting their graduates who had joined the T&C industry to share their experience to the younger generation with a view to enticing more students to pursue T&C programmes and attracting new blood to the industry.

CIT and SG, HKCTC responded that a list of programmes dedicated to T&C, ranging from master’s degree level to higher diploma level, offered by local post-secondary institutions was set out in Enclosure II to the Administration’s paper. Apart from a Higher Diploma in Analytical Science programme, the Vocational Training Council also offered seven higher diploma courses on applied science with graduates joining the T&C sector. Altogether these higher diploma courses provided around 400 graduates each year. Among the graduates in 2020, over 20% had joined the T&C sector. The Open University of Hong Kong also offered a number of full-time Bachelor’s degree courses relating to T&C, which provided around 200 graduates in 2019. Due to their training on T&C, these graduates were targeted by many T&C organizations. The Administration did not have statistics on the jobs taken up by graduates of other T&C-related courses.

SG, HKCTC also advised that the Panel on Manpower Development under the Hong Kong Council for Testing and Certification (“HKCTC”) had been working on two aspects to strengthen the manpower development of the T&C sector. Firstly, HKCTC would enhance young people’s understanding of the diversified development prospects of the T&C industry. Secondly, HKCTC planned to organize an award scheme to (a) give due recognition to T&C organizations which actively promoted talent training and professional development; and (b) acclaim outstanding T&C practitioners who strived for continuous learning and improvement, and made distinguished contribution to improving service quality and productivity of their organizations. CIT added that members of the public had become more aware of the importance of professional T&C services during the pandemic. The Administration would continue to enrich secondary school students’ understanding in T&C, thereby stimulating their interest in joining the industry in the future.