Foundation helps to soften blow to Hong Kong's intellectual capital

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 June, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 June, 2003, 12:00am

This week, the government announced the unemployment rate has gone up to 8.2 per cent. Needless to say, the record-high number made the currently unemployed more worried and anxious to find a way out.

The spending of HK$1 billion by the government would mostly benefit the young and middle-aged labour force, but not the out-of-job professionals, managers and executives.

The most an unemployed person can do is to register with recruitment companies, respond to advertisements, send in cold applications, speak to business associates, or keep their knowledge updated for the next move.

Obviously, no one can provide a perfect answer other than to wait for the economy to turn so that more jobs will be created.

In this prolonged search-and-wait process, the unemployed can get some help from a non-profit and charitable organisation - the Getting Back to Work Foundation. The mission of the foundation is to help the mid-level managers and professionals to re-enter the workforce.

The foundation, set up last year, is supported by a number of corporations and chambers of commerce. It has attracted thousands of job-seekers across various industries and backgrounds, whether local or expatriate, to their seminars and workshops. According to the foundation's estimates, these job-seekers are some of the 60 per cent of Hong Kong's total unemployed who do not receive executive outplacement service as their seniors.

Periodically, the foundation organises seminars which are led by experts from human resources, recruitment or career coaching and consulting.

They share their knowledge and expert opinions on job search, ranging from interviewing skills, resume writing, networking, self-assessment, understanding employers' thinking to building up a comprehensive job support network.

In addition to these technical skills and tactics, the workshops also offer a good psychological relief forum to the job-seekers. When they come, they would not feel embarrassed because they know they are not the only ones.

They could also share with other participants their predicament - being rejected and feeling lost during the job search.

Besides seminars and workshops, the foundation also provides information and networking forum for the unemployed via tits Web site. Moreover, one-on-one coaching is also offered to those who need it.

'This group of people is the valuable intellectual capital of Hong Kong,' says Nigel Cumberland, founder of the Getting Back to Work Foundation.

'We advise them to be flexible in their next job and income level, however, they still need to have aims and goals. We are here to help them in some way from suffering.

'We do not want to see them decline, which is going to affect the long-term future of Hong Kong.'