Helping the young move ahead
The thought of leaving full-time study to set a career in motion is daunting at the best of times, but entering a job market with a climbing unemployment rate can be even more so.
However, thanks to two one-stop employment advisory and support services centres devoted to young people, help is at hand for those who are hoping to enter the job market this year.
Hong Kong's first youth employment resource centre, better known as Youth Employment Start (YES), was established by the Labour Department in Mong Kok in December 2007, followed by another centre in Kwai Fong in March 2008.
Both provide one-stop employment and self-employment support services to young people aged 15 to 29, said Louisa Poon, a senior labour officer (Careers & Employment Agencies Division) at the Labour Department. The youth employment resource centre initiative was originally announced by the chief executive, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, in his 2006-2007 policy address.
The aim was to create a platform where young people can find the resources for their development in employment or self-employment in the early stages of their careers, said Ms Poon.
'YES has put in place under one roof a wide range of services and facilities to meet the different employment needs of young people,' she said.
These include a self-administered career assessment kit, career consultation, recruitment exercises and a mentorship programme. Training is available in various formats, covering self employment and soft and technical skills.
There is a range of facilities for the self employed, including a business room, a fully equipped workstation and a design corner. Participants also benefit from the support centre's input from non-governmental organisations, schools, employers, professionals and young members, all of whom contribute to the service.
The results achieved so far have been impressive.
'As of March 31, 2009, YES registered 19,466 members. We have 456 business members who are young people with an interest in exploring self-employment,' Ms Poon said.
The programme has already helped more than 85,000 people with career planning and job searches, and with upgrading their skills and developing self-employment opportunities.
Its doors are always open to the young. 'You can always approach YES for guidance and support and utilise its services at any stage of your employment path,' Ms Poon said.
The support centre also partners with private corporations which show their commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) by serving young people.
The goal is to formulate interesting programmes that widen their horizons, deepen their knowledge of the labour market and unleash their potential and talents.
One recent initiative is the Equipping Youths: All the Way programme, set up in partnership with courier service giant DHL. An ardent youth development supporter and a YES corporate partner since last year, DHL aims to provide a springboard for the careers of members of the project.
The programme includes soft skills training, executive sharing sessions, a focus on the entrepreneurial spirit and an experience-sharing session with DHL 'Heroes'.
It also offers fresh initiatives focused on nurturing a generation of visionary, well-rounded leaders at a time of extraordinary economic challenges.
The programme emphasises CSR, giving participants the opportunity to join DHL's various employee CSR programmes.
'We aim to nurture young talent with training and guidance, by sharing industry knowledge and international best practices and inspiring them with success stories,' said Connie Tang, managing director, DHL Express Hong Kong and Taiwan.
To recognise and further cultivate outstanding participants of last year's programme, DHL Global Forwarding awarded scholarships to its three most promising members.
'There is no shortage of talent among Hong Kong's young people,' said Edward Hui, managing director, DHL Global Forwarding, Hong Kong, Macau and South China.
'The question was how to help them go all the way, fulfil their ambitions and become leaders in their chosen professions,' Mr Hui said. 'We introduced the scholarship to give that extra boost of recognition and encouragement to the most promising individuals.'
The resource centre programme has provided an excellent one-stop platform for members to develop interpersonal and communications skills and gain an understanding of the industry and what working for a major global brand is like, said scholarship winner and higher diploma graduate Sunny Lam.
'I'm now helping DHL to design their First Choice poster and will use the opportunity to demonstrate the leadership, organisational and presentation skills I have learned,' he said.