School-leavers and unemployed youths have taken advantage of a training programme to gain work experience and improve their chances of finding a job. Twelve young people who joined the Government's $50 million youth pre-employment training programme were sent to work at Star TV for a month. They were assigned to provide clerical and hotline support to the company's human resources, facilities, traffic, customer services and management information systems departments. Before being sent on job placements, the 12 were trained in leadership, self-discipline, team building and job-search skills. They also learned job-specific skills in areas such as sales, customer services, office automation and information technology. The participants said the programme gave them useful experience of working in an office. They said the programme could be extended to all school-leavers to bridge the gap between school and work, making them more employable. Rachel Leung Ka-wai, Suen Wing-wah and Sam Pang Lai-kwok, who worked in Star TV's management information systems department, said they had boosted their Internet and computer skills. They answered telephone inquiries at the hotline centre, searched for information on the Internet and updated the company's Web sites. Form Five graduate Ka-wai, 18, said she had a hard time looking for a clerical job. 'Most employers said we were either too young or without any previous working experience. It seems to me no one is giving us an opportunity to learn and gain some working experience.' She said computer literacy, communication skills, self-discipline and the right working attitude were important. 'During my work here, I understood why employers looked for potential employees with working experience which would make the office run smoothly.' Seventeen-year-old Wing-wah, who is studying Form Six at night school, said answering inquiries on the hotline was the most challenging part of her job. 'I have to deal with people who have encountered problems with their computers. Some of them speak Mandarin while others have different English accents. We have to be patient and well- mannered even though we know nothing about the technical side of computing.' Lai-kwok, who has finished Form Two, said she had not found a permanent job and had shifted between part-time jobs in sales and customer services. 'I want to learn as much as I can on this training programme. My colleagues are very helpful in teaching me even though I make mistakes.' She said a sense of responsibility, willingness to learn, respect for others and punctuality would help school-leavers to adapt to a new job. Emily Cheng Kit-ming and Julie Chan King-chi said their families had been very supportive during the training programme. Kit-ming, who has finished Form Five and studied commercial studies and office management, said the skills she acquired had boosted her confidence. 'My parents are happy to see me going for training workshops and placement at Star TV. I hope my work experience here will impress my future employer,' she said.