The workers responsible for maintaining critical connections in the city's power grid - and those who want to join their ranks - will soon have their first opportunity to get a professional certification thanks to a new training programme offered by Hongkong Electric.
The utility, which is working in collaboration with the Vocational Training Council (VTC), hopes the programme will attract new applicants to become cable jointers and improve the skills of the some 300 city residents already in the trade. The application window for the first course closes tomorrow.
Jointers are responsible for wiring and maintaining the 87,200 cable connection boxes scattered throughout the city. If a jointer failed to properly connect a cable or install a box, the resulting malfunction could disrupt power and affect residents and businesses alike.
'Their work is very important,' said Dr Ip Pak-nin, Hongkong Electric's transmission and distribution chief. 'They are our unsung heroes.'
Until now, there were no training programmes providing professional certification to members of the trade and aspiring jointers were trained on the job. That needed to change as society placed increasing demands for electricity and more stability in the grid, Ip said.
'We are delighted to co-operate with the VTC to provide this training programme, so the industry can have an opportunity to improve technical expertise,' Ip said. 'Through this programme we also hope to attract some new blood into professional cable jointing as a career.'
The nine-lesson programme costs HK$16,000. The twice-weekly classes last 21/2 hours each and provide lessons in cable-jointing theory and hands-on work. Each is limited to eight students in order to maintain a one-to-one instruction environment.
The utility hopes to train about two dozen new jointers each year. Advanced courses will be offered to those with at least three years of jointing experience.
'Although the work of a cable jointer is quite tiring, it is actually very meaningful because the results of their work have a direct impact on the city's power supply,' Ip said.
Robert Tse Sai-man, 36, said he has had to be meticulous to install more than 6,000 cable connection boxes without any accidents or incidents, earning him a coveted 'white sheet' status.
'I cannot afford to be slack on any detail, because it is those small details that affect the power supply,' Tse said.