But consultants keep advertising for staff
Despite the ballooning workload from public works sector, there are enough Resident Site Staff (RSS) to manage and supervise the projects, according to the government.
In response to enquiries regarding RSS manpower, a Development Bureau spokeswoman noted that with an increasing workload from both the public and private sectors, it was inevitable that there would more demand for construction professionals, site supervisory staff and workers.
For public works alone, the spokeswoman pointed out capital works expenditure per annum climbed from HK$20.5 billion in 2007-08 to HK$70 billion in 2013-14.
The spending on public works alone is expected to remain at the HK$70 billion each year for the next few years.
As regards RSS manpower, the spokeswoman said the engineering consultants recruit throughout the various stages of the contracts to meet manpower needs.
“We found that the number of the RSS has remained quite steady over the past few years. Furthermore, we are not aware of any reported case of undermining in public works projects managed by consultants,” the spokeswoman said.
This appeared to be at odds from what contractors and the Resident Site Staff Association in an earlier Construction Post story this month.
A cursory glance at the job advertisements in Classified Post published last Saturday appears to show strong demand for supervisory staff.
A total of eight engineering consultants placed 14 job adverts for a total of 107 vacancies.
Engineering consultant giant AECOM accounted for five of the job adverts for 63 vacancies.
The site formation and infrastructure works for the Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai Boundary Control Point project alone was seeking 22 resident staff.
Coming in second was Black & Veatch with four adverts for 19 staff.
Mega projects naturally require more supervision staff.
On Construction Post mentioning the Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok Link project, the spokeswoman said the establishment for the RSS team to man the two contracts for the project, namely the Northern Connection and Southern Connection, was about 400 staff.
Staff would be recruited in stages to suit the supervision requirements of the work.
However it is only a matter of time before the next round of recruiting kicks off.
In the pipeline are projects such as the tunnel section for the Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai project which was awarded to Dragages Hong Kong last month and the viaduct section which is waiting to be awarded.
In the meantime, the bureau spokeswoman said there were various ways to enhance supply of RSS personnel such as the multi-disciplinary nature of some construction disciplines could help manpower needs and that mobility of personnel between consultant offices and sites could address deficits at any one end.
“There has also been the practice or arrangement for outsourcing work outside Hong Kong, especially for planning and design work, which can help ease the pressure on local professionals,” the spokeswoman said.
In addition, there were also admission schemes for talent and professionals under the Immigration Department for the importation of expatriate construction professionals.
The government is also studying the demand for manpower in collaboration with the Construction Industry Council over a ten-year horizon.
The first report for construction workers was recently completed while the first report for construction professionals, site supervisors and technicians will be available in the second quarter of 2014, according to the bureau spokeswoman.