Home needs under one roof
With its core activities centred on helping low-income families with their housing needs, the Housing Department (HD) and Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) are responsible for providing accommodation for about a third of the city's population.
While the HA oversees the development and implementation of public housing programmes, the HD acts as the executive arm, implementing the HA's policies, as well as those set by its standing committees.
Aside from maintaining its existing stock of 720,000 public rental flats, through a five-year rolling programme, the HA produces an average of 15,000 public rental flats per year.
To achieve this, the HA and HD employ staff in 10 professional grades. These include architect, landscape architect, geotechnical engineer, civil engineer, structural engineer, building services engineer, maintenance surveyor, quantity surveyors, estate surveyor and planning officer.
'As a public sector developer, the HA [and HD's] mainstream functions offer multi-disciplinary 'through-train' services that cover all aspects of public housing development from planning, design, tender, construction, property management, maintenance to redevelopment,' says HD deputy director Ada Fung. 'We are a unique organisation in Hong Kong, employing all these professional services under one roof.'
Tasked by the government to expand the scope of the Home Ownership Scheme, the two bodies have had to extend the retirement age for serving officers and, at the same time, mount an aggressive hiring drive through which they hope to fill vacancies across several disciplines. The HD is currently in the market for planning officers and quantity surveyors.
'Generally speaking, we are looking for people who can apply the latest professional knowledge to undertake planning work, produce designs, manage and effectively co-ordinate tasks. They must be willing to learn, grow and accept new challenges,' says Fung.
Also important is the ability to consolidate information and apply knowledge to enhance and improve the built environment.
Fung says employment with the HD or HA offers various challenging opportunities in planning, design and construction. 'Most projects are large-scale and technically complex. For example, the re-development of Upper and Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estates, and the design and building of the new Kai Tak site,' she says.
New recruits are appointed on permanent civil service terms with a three-year probation. The entry-level salary is at the master pay scale of HK$47,135. Candidates with additional experience may be eligible for the granting of increments up to HK$62,410. They also enjoy job security, welfare and a variety of benefits.
Fung says planning officers and quantity surveyors must possess appropriate qualifications and meet membership requirements of their relevant professional institutes in Hong Kong, plus at least one year of on-the-job post-qualification experience.
To be effective, Fung says, professionals must be competent in a range of skills, including technical, language, communication, research and analytical, in addition to well-roundedness and creativity. Employees are also expected to embrace the HD and HA's four core 4C values: caring, creative, customer-focused and committed.
'The ability to operate in a creative manner is certainly one of the important characteristics we are looking for in our new planning officers,' the deputy director explains, adding that the ability to visualise and plan for the future of Hong Kong is also an important asset.
'We have been applying creative solutions wherever we meet problems and challenges. There are many examples such as using marine mud for building products, reducing waste, applying micro-climate studies to enable best use of natural wind and light for properties,' says Fung.
'Our mission is providing affordable quality housing, management, maintenance and other services to meet customer needs in a pro-active and caring manner,' Fung adds.
'We must also ensure cost-effective and rational use of public resources and maintain a competent, dedicated and performance-oriented team of professionals.'