Domestic workers with home nursing skills from Thailand are expected to join the Hong Kong workforce by end of the year, in addition to those from the Philippines with similar skills who are already in the city.
Cheung Kit-man, chairman of the Hong Kong Employment Agencies Association, said his agency had arranged with the Philippine government last year to hire Filipinos with nursing skills for elderly care, the Hong Kong Economic Times reported.
At least 60 Filipino had been employed in Hong Kong for this purpose last year with monthly salaries starting at HK$5,000 (US$638). They were trained to take care of the elderly, mostly single people, including how to help them walk or control their wheelchairs and how to get them to take their medication.
Currently, the standard wage for maids in Hong Kong is HK$4,310 a month.
Compared with the cost of hiring local workers with nursing skills, Cheung said hiring domestic workers from the Philippines with the same skill sets was at least 50% cheaper. However, fewer Filipinos have been willing to come to Hong Kong in recent years as they want to go to Japan for higher pay, with monthly salaries equivalent to HK$9,000 or more.
Cheung said he had been negotiating with the Thai government for approval of at least 1,000 domestic workers with nursing skills and massage training to come to Hong Kong from Thailand.
The first batch of 50 Thai carers could arrive in Hong Kong by the end of the year after training. They would be paid HK$5,500 to HK$6,000 a month.
Cheung believes that if the Thai domestic workers learn to speak Cantonese, as most Thais are Buddhists, unlike most Filipinos, the elderly in Hong Kong would be more willing to accept them.