Joining forces to serve Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 February, 2008, 12:00am

Rigorous tests fail to deter fresh graduates from applying for a career in the government's fire services, police, ICAC and civil aviation

Joining the government's disciplined services is the dream of many fresh graduates. Every year, thousands of young Hongkongers apply to the Fire Services Department and the Hong Kong Police Force.

Others also try to join the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and the Civil Aviation Department.

These jobs demand mental and physical toughness, and require recruits to be team players who are ready to accept strict discipline.

However, of the several thousand applicants, only a handful are accepted.

For example, the Fire Services Department, in its recent attempt to hire ambulancemen and women, received about 3,300 applications for about 100 vacancies.

In its last two rounds of recruitment for firemen and firewomen, none of the 115 female applicants succeeded.

A department spokesman said the ambulance posts attracted a huge number of applicants because many met the basic entry requirements. But, those wanting to be a fireman or firewoman must also pass an eye-sight test without wearing spectacles.

The low success rate of females applicants is believed to be because of the rigorous physical tests demanded at the hiring phase.

The starting salary for many positions in the disciplined services is attractive. The monthly salary for both ambulancemen and women, and firemen and women is now HK$13,945.

The spokesman said the response to the department's past recruitment drives at the Education & Careers Expo had been good.

'Quite a few showed strong interest. We would like to make use of this year's expo to inform the public of the career prospects in our department and to encourage school leavers to join us.'

At the end of last month, the department had 308 vacancies for this year - 35 for station officers (operational) - twice as many as that of the previous recruitment drive - two for ambulance officers, 167 for firemen and women (operational/marine) and 104 for ambulancemen and women.

Potential applicants should also visit the recruitment website to familiarise themselves with the job requirements, the department advised. On the other hand, if law enforcement interests you, the Hong Kong Police Force has vacancies for 105 probationary inspectors and 1,200 police constables. These positions became available in the last financial year.

There will be a further 105 vacancies for probationary inspectors and 750 police constables for the 2008/2009 financial year, starting in April.

A police spokesman said the core nature of the two posts was relatively the same, with the jobs offering a 'challenge with diversity, excellent training and promotion prospects'. The most important aspect is that police work requires a lifetime commitment to serve and protect the community.

He described the response at the expo in previous years as 'overwhelming'.

'The attractiveness of police work can be reflected by the enormous number of applications we received. For [this] financial year, we have received 5,286 probationary inspector applications and 8,498 for constables.'

Last year, the force had handled more than 40,000 inquiries from expo visitors and received 763 job applications on the spot.

'For the forthcoming expo, we will continue to recruit probationary inspectors and police constables, [and] auxiliary police constables,' he said.

This year, candidates who submitted applications for probationary inspectors at the expo would be given appointment dates for written examinations and selection interviews, the spokesman said.

During the 2006/2007 financial year, the force received 1,539 applications from women applicants, which accounted for 30.6 per cent of the total, 5,026, who applied. For this financial year, it has received 1,563 applications from women applicants, which accounted for 29.6 per cent of the total, 5,286. The success rate for women applicants over these periods was from 1 to 2 per cent.

The starting salary for probationary inspectors ranges from HK$27,980 to HK$29,715, while police constables' starting salary is from HK$15,350 to HK$15,820.

Also at the expo is Hong Kong's much-vaunted graft busting organisation, the ICAC, which has about 40 vacancies for the positions of assistant officer and officer (middle/lower). There were a total of 2,400 applications for these two posts during its previous recruitment drives.

'There will be an ICAC chat room where visitors will meet our officers from various departments face-to-face and learn about career opportunities in the ICAC,' an ICAC spokesman said.

'Under our common recruitment policy, all new recruits receive solid training in all aspects of the ICAC's work and related skills, including work of the operations department and legal knowledge, to prepare them to work in various departments. They will be given exposure to the work of three departments and guidance from training officers concerning their career development.

'Apart from the academic qualifications, we also take into consideration qualities and experience of the candidates. Successful candidates must possess integrity, confidence, ability and courage. We would like to recruit young people who have a commitment to serve the community, knowledge and the right aptitude and attitude.'

Elsewhere, the Civil Aviation Department will introduce the post of student air-traffic control officer at the expo. The post, with 15 vacancies available, will be advertised next month and in April. In its 2007 recruitment exercise, there were a total of 2,248 applications for 20 vacancies, an average of 112 candidates for each position.

Successful candidates will undertake a series of local and overseas training courses, which will lead to the awarding of air-traffic control ratings, and be deployed for duties related to air-traffic control. The starting monthly salary is from HK$14,725 to HK$17,895.

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