Programme offers alternative option to school-leavers

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 June, 2008, 12:00am

The government's Youth Work Experience and Training Scheme offers secondary school-leavers an alternative path to pursue a career, and enhances their competitiveness in the labour market.

The scheme, launched in 2002 by the Labour Department, provides people, aged 15 to 24 and without a degree, six to 12 months of on-the-job training.

There is no minimum academic qualification requirement and the scheme welcomes school-leavers, even those who do not score one point in public examinations.

Since its inception, 56,155 trainees secured jobs through the scheme's assistance and support. There were 10,578 enrolled in the programme in 2006-07 and 7,114 were placed.

Last year, 7,874 enrolled and 4,905 placements were secured.

The scheme collaborates with employers, from retail, import and export, education services, catering, tourism, trading, information technology, health care and personal services, to enable trainees to choose their careers.

The Labour Department said training posts, such as clerks, sales and marketing personnel, programme assistants, information technology officers and technicians, were the most popular among applicants under the scheme.

All trainees first take a 40-hour induction course on soft skills, such as job search, communication and interpersonal skills, to prepare for job interviews.

At the induction, registered social workers are on hand to provide personalised career counselling and support to help trainees tackle personal and social obstacles. Trainees who are placed receive a HK$2,000 subsidy every month during on-the-job training. They can also be reimbursed HK$4,000 for enrolling in relevant off-the-job training courses and exams.

The scheme partnered with the Youth Pre-employment Training Programme in 2005 to run tailored training projects for industries, including retail, catering, tourism, telemarketing, real estate and property management.

Trainees undergo specific pre-employment training according to the employers' needs.

The scheme has also launched several industry based programmes, such as the IT Seeds project to train IT technicians for academic institutions, the Airport Ambassadors programme to train customer service officers at Hong Kong International Airport, Action S4 project to train programme assistants for welfare organisations. It also includes the Tradesman Trainees project to train skilled workers for industrial establishments.

After a recruitment day and a job fair co-organised with the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management this month, the scheme and the Youth Pre-employment Training Programme will have a joint recruitment event at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on August 2 during the Information Expo 2008. The event is organised by the Education Bureau. Enrolment for the IT Seeds project will begin on July10.

The president of the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management, Wilfred Wong Kam-pui, said secondary school-leavers were not as competitive as degree holders when they entered the job market.

However, he said there were plenty of entry-level positions in the market for people who were not degree holders.

According to the first quarter 2008 survey of manpower statistics by the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management, the clerical and frontline staff sector has the highest vacancy rate of 4.62 per cent.

The sector also recorded a 1.1 per cent net growth in new positions.

'Academic qualifications are crucial, but are not the most important thing in the workplace. The most important thing is your attitude towards your work,' Mr Wong said.

'If you do everything to the best of your ability and keep learning and upgrading yourself, even if you are not a university graduate, there are loads of opportunities in society waiting for you.'

Mr Wong advised secondary school-leavers applying for a job to show their passion for developing their careers in their chosen industries during job interviews.

'Don't take the job just as a springboard. You should show the employer that you want to establish a career in the industry and will keep learning,' he said.

'This will give the employers more confidence to hire you.'

Mr Wong said, while Hong Kong was a knowledge-based economy, he believed academic qualifications were not the only factor that determined if a person would enjoy a successful career.

To pursue a bright career, a person's performance at work was more essential.

'In a knowledge-based economy, no matter what academic qualification you have, you have to keep upgrading yourself ... to make yourself perform better at work,' he said.

Mr Wong said that if job applicants had passion, motivation and energy for their jobs, it was possible to gradually rise through the ranks to senior and top-level positions.