The Hong Kong government is still considering allowing foreign domestic workers who have completed elderly-care training to work in elderly centers, for which the supply of manpower is tight currently.

Under the proposal, graduates of the government’s Pilot Scheme on Training for Foreign Domestic Helpers on Elderly Care would work as caregivers in elderly centers, in which their salary could reach HK$13,000 (US$1,656) a month, Oriental Daily reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. That is triple the HK$4,520 standard monthly wage a domestic worker currently earns.

An 18% shortfall in the supply of caregivers in local elderly centers prompted the government to study the feasibility of allowing foreign domestic workers to take up the slack after acquiring the necessary skills. But one condition would be that these workers would have to learn Cantonese so they could communicate efficiency with the folks they were caring for.

The Welfare Department launched the pilot scheme in March last year to train a total of 1,100 foreign domestic workers.

Betty Yung Ma Shan-yee, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Employers of Overseas Domestic Helpers’ Association, said that if the policy were carried out, it could have a great impact on local families as domestic workers with such qualification could change jobs for the higher salary. But she also noted that when workers considering making the shift realized that each caregiver might need to take care of eight or nine elderly people and thus the workload could be higher, that could be a deterrent.

Lam Ching-choi, chairman of the Elderly Commission, said only those domestic workers who possessed relevant training in their home countries and attended the local training courses would be qualified, adding that the government would assess and monitor quality of the services they provided.

As the proposal is still in its initial stage, the government will further study the idea and consult various stakeholders as appropriate, according to a government source familiar with the matter.

Read: Hong Kong to train 800 domestic workers in elderly care