District-based job fairs organized by the Labour Department were inefficient on average, only managing to find jobs for three people per fair last year, the Audit Commission revealed.
The needs of job seekers had also changed, as shown by a significant drop in the number of people registering with the department. The government should conduct a comprehensive review on its general employment services, it added.
The commission found that the number of registered job seekers plunged by 70.8 percent from 168,740 in 2008 to 49,233 in 2017. A total of 123,400 people were unemployed in Hong Kong, but only about 49,000, or 40 percent, registered with the department.
The low rate could be because of the department's inefficiency in connecting employers and employees in the 900 job fairs it organizes yearly, the commission suggested, and said the number of interviews it arranged was disappointing.
Meanwhile, 12 out of 13 employment centers saw a decline in the number of visitors - up to 34 percent - in the past two years.
The department's three industry-based employment centers only secured two to eight placements on average per industry-based job fair last year.
The commission also said the department misled the public and presented inaccurate data regarding the Employment Programme for the Elderly and Middle-aged in the Legislative Council.
In the department's annual reports and documents submitted to Legco's Financial Committee, the department claimed 2,642 people joined the program in 2017, but in fact only 431 people successfully obtained the subsidy from the government. The 2,642 people were actually the number of cases eligible for the program, the watchdog said.
It urged the department to rationalize and review the cost-effectiveness of its employment services.