A new two-tier membership structure introduced by the Hong Kong Institute of Housing (HKIH) is designed to boost service quality and industry know-how in the property management sector. 'Hong Kong's property management industry places a number of high expectations and demands on property managers. Therefore, we must do all we can to continually upgrade skills and professionalism within the industry,' says Share Tai-ki, HKIH immediate past president. Under the new 'Practitioner' membership status, individuals who meet criteria will be able to join HKIH, where they will be given support and direction to enable them to become full members. Eligibility to become a practitioner-member includes being employed on a full-time basis for at least six years in the property management field or having completed courses or training programmes accredited by HKIH, or other equivalent qualifications recognised by the institute. In addition, applicants should hold a bachelor's degree in any subject from a local university or other tertiary-education providers. Approval from HKIH will be needed if a degree is awarded by a non-local university. 'The new membership also serves to officially recognise the status of practitioners who have more operational experiences, and to retain this group in the workforce in order to meet the increasing demand for property management experts,' says Share, adding that incidences of falling concrete, collapsed canopies and lift accidents raise awareness of the need for good property management. He says that upon completion of courses, passing a relevant English assessment test and obtaining full compliance with the Practical Experience Requirement (PER), practitioner-members can then be upgraded to full members of HKIH. He says part of the PER requirement includes working under the guidance of a qualified property manager. Under the government's Qualifications Framework, which sets out the skills, knowledge and standards required of employees in different functional areas, there are several property management specialisations. These include management of the property environment, security, cleaning and landscaping, building repair and improvement, property management service for owners, tenants and the community, finance and asset management, facility management, human resources management, and law in practice, which involves providing legal advice on the Building Management Ordinance. Share says the introduction of Practitioners by HKIH can identify and position qualified employees as professionals.