As at the end of March 2016, the department had approximately 8 700 civil servant staff. The department plans to expand its workforce in 2016-17, both to enhance its existing services and to deliver new ones, as well as to staff new facilities.
Employment Situation for Non-civil Service Contract (NCSC) Staff
NCSC staff are employed by the department under the NCSC Staff Scheme to meet various service and operational requirements. They mainly provide support services in LCSD venues and offices, including general administrative support, frontline and customer services, technical support, and information technology services. The department has kept the employment of NCSC staff under regular review and, where the work involved is of a long-term nature, sought to replace them with civil service posts subject to availability of resources.
Recruitment of Civil Service Staff
In 2015-16, the department conducted recruitment exercises for the following posts: Artisan (Beach/Swimming Pool), Artisan (Carpenter), Artisan (General Duties), Assistant Curator II (Conservation), Assistant Leisure Services Manager II, Photographer I, and Technical Officer II (Design) (Cultural Services).
Staff Training and Development
The Training Section provided a wide range of programmes in 2015-16 designed to equip staff with the professional knowledge and skills they need to meet the department's business needs and ensure it operates efficiently.
Various training programmes were organised for staff involved in arboriculture, focused on tree inspection, tree pathology, risk assessment and remedial tree surgery. They included four courses on Visual Tree Inspection and Remedial Tree Surgery for some 100 staff members, a Tree Hazard Assessment Course with Integrated Assessment (the LANTRA Professional Tree Inspection Qualification) for 24 staff members of Leisure Services Manager (LSM) and Amenities Assistant (AA) grades, a number of thematic arboriculture seminars, and a specialist arboriculture course attended by some 510 staff members.
The Training Section also arranged for 31 staff members to attend a tailor-made two-day course on Occupational Safety and Health in Arboriculture, organised by the Tree Management Office of the Development Bureau and the Occupational Safety and Health Council.
We organised re-certification training programmes for staff holding the International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist qualification, which enabled 33 LSM and AA grade staff members to be re-certified for this professional qualification. We also arranged training for other qualifications, including the Advanced Diploma in Tree Management and Conservation (HKU SPACE), the Certificate in Professional Tree Management (OUHK), the Professional Diploma in Horticulture and Landscape Management and the Certificate in Principle and Practice of Plant Pest and Disease Management (THEi), the Certified Arborists Training Programme (IVDC), the MSc(Hons) Degree in Arboriculture (UK), and the Arboriculture Level 3 City and Guilds Diploma (UK). A total of 49 LSM and AA grade staff members participated in these local and overseas training programmes.
The Training Section also arranged a number of training programmes for staff involved in turf management and maintenance. These included a local Professional Diploma in Horticulture and Landscape Management course offered by THEi and undertaken by 10 LSM and AA grade staff members, a new overseas distance learning programme (Certificate III in Sports Turf Management (Australia)) for five LSM and AA grade staff members, a Turf attachment training programme in Australia for an AA grade staff member, and a blended learning programme (Sports Turf (Operations Management) Level 5 (New Zealand)) for a LSM grade officer. In addition, we organised an experience-sharing session on Sports Turf Maintenance and Management for 76 staff members working in sports grounds and major parks.
The Training Section continued to sponsor staff members to attend a wide range of training programmes offered by local tertiary institutions on different aspects of arts and culture. Some 150 Cultural Services Branch officers received training on cultural management, cultural leadership, arts management and entrepreneurship, creative industries management, performing arts, museum studies, architectural conservation, information studies and archival studies.
Core competencies of cultural services staff were also addressed through the provision of training courses on leadership, staff management, communication, personal effectiveness, creativity, innovation and language proficiency for some 520 officers.
The Training Section also lined up a number of training programmes for various grades of the Cultural Services Branch, designed to enhance general work knowledge. These included courses on stage and technical management, marketing and digital marketing, digital and graphic design technology, and legal knowledge. In addition, staff were sponsored to participate in a number of job-related conferences, forums and summits. Some 1 110 staff members took advantage of these initiatives.
Stage management staff and artisans were provided with a useful series of courses designed to enhance their repair and maintenance skills in metal, carpentry and joinery, and painting, rope access and rigging, lifting platform safety, and the selection and maintenance of dance floors. Around 180 staff members took part.
Furthermore, the Training Section designed and organised grade-specific induction courses for staff of different grades of the Cultural Services Branch. These courses familiarised participants with the structure, vision and mission of the department, enhanced their knowledge of the branch's work, and provided a platform for senior officers to meet with them and share the opportunities and challenges ahead. Around 510 staff members attended these courses.
Further efforts were expended towards enhancing the standard of performance of frontline staff, with the launch of the third and fourth modules of the new structured in-house training series, on crisis management and crowd management. Some 140 staff members of the Cultural Services Branch attended the training. Other modules of the series, first introduced in 2014-15, will be rolled out over the next few years.
We are always keen to encourage knowledge transfer among staff. During the year, colleagues who are specialists within their specific areas of work were invited to take part in the Chat Room Series, a series designed to provide opportunities for staff to share their work expertise more widely. This year, staff members shared their work experience in the areas of library services, the opening of new facilities, and design work for large-scale exhibitions. In addition, colleagues returning from duty visits and training outside Hong Kong held debriefing sessions in which they shared what they had learned with colleagues. A total of some 1 060 staff members attended these sharing and debriefing sessions.
Around 110 cultural services staff members were also given the opportunity to broaden their international exposure by taking part in training outside Hong Kong in the form of internship programmes and exchanges with various international cultural institutions. These initiatives were important in helping participants achieve service excellence and develop creative programmes and events for the public, and more generally in contributing towards the development of Hong Kong as a world-class events capital.
Maintaining staff safety and health has remained a priority, and to this end the Training Section organised a variety of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) training programmes to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all staff as well as customers visiting our premises or participating in our activities. During the year, some 500 staff members received training in the use of Automated External Defibrillators, and acquired the relevant certification. Other general OSH courses held included the courses Handling Workplace Violence and Breakaway Techniques, Prevention of Biological (Animal and Insect) Hazards at Outdoor Workplaces, Knowing Dog Behaviour, General Safety for Supervisors and Managers, and General Safety for Frontline Staff. All helped raise occupational safety awareness among frontline staff.
We continued to offer competence certificate courses, such as the Mandatory Basic Safety Training Course, the General Safety for Workers in Confined Spaces and Revalidation Course, and the Certificate of Competence in Manual Handling. In addition, we organised some OSH management courses for district and venue safety officers, including, among others, Basic Safety Management Training and General Training on OSH for District/Venue Safety Officers.
In 2015-16, the department continued to support the Government's initiative to expand job opportunities for young people through the Swimming Pool Trainee Scheme and the Beach Trainee Scheme. Under these schemes, the Training Section provided four to five months' training to 22 young people, after which they sat the relevant tests to gain lifeguard qualifications. They were then able to apply for jobs in both public and private aquatic venues.
In addition, the Training Section delivered a number of regular programmes on leisure and cultural services disciplines, as well as training in general knowledge and skills, supervisory management, language and communication, computer software applications, and information technology.
Overall, 2015-16 was a productive year for staff training. We offered a total of 17 961 training places for all grades and ranks, including NCSC and ex-Council contract staff, and received very positive feedback from trainees.
Staff Relations and Communication
The department enjoys good staff relations and is committed to maintaining excellent communication.
Management maintains regular contact with staff through meetings of the Departmental Consultative Committee and the General Grades Consultative Committee, and meetings with staff unions. In addition, ad hoc meetings, informal gatherings and briefings are held from time to time to discuss issues of mutual concern. The Director of Leisure and Cultural Services also regularly meets with staff and union representatives to gain a better understanding of their concerns, and takes appropriate action where necessary.
Individual needs of staff members are also given attention. The Staff Relations ‒ Staff Welfare Unit deals with requests and enquiries from staff regarding welfare and other matters. Members of staff are encouraged to make suggestions for improving and streamlining the department's operations and management.
To enhance working relationships among staff members, the department regularly organises special-interest classes and recreational activities, such as classes on horticulture and physical fitness, and the annual karaoke contest.
The departmental Volunteer Team and Sports Teams also provide ample opportunities for staff to participate in worthwhile activities in their spare time. This year, the Volunteer Team arranged for disadvantaged families to attend the annual Hong Kong Flower Show. The team also took part in a clean-up operation at Lido Beach in support of the Keep Clean 2015@Hong Kong: Our Home Campaign. Meanwhile, our Sports Teams participated successfully in various open and inter-departmental competitions.
The quarterly Staff Newsletter has continued to act as an effective medium for staff communication.
Recognition plays a key role in building a motivated and committed workforce. Staff who have provided meritorious service for 20 years or more are eligible for consideration for Long and Meritorious Service Certificates and Long and Meritorious Service Travel Awards. In 2015-16, 216 staff received Certificates of Merit for their meritorious service.
In addition, three staff members who had been nominated by the department received commendations from the Secretary for the Civil Service in 2015-16 for their consistently excellent performance.
The department's Customer Appreciation Card Scheme is a channel by which staff can receive direct customer feedback. Staff members are also encouraged to develop and improve their service standards through the Staff Suggestion Scheme and the Work Improvement Teams.
Customer focus is a core value of the department. In 2015-16, we received more than 10 000 appreciation cards and over 800 compliments from our customers, which have proved of special value in motivating high performance among our frontline staff.