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Ethnic minorities in Hong Kong

Chinese is the biggest hurdle for Hong Kong’s ethnic minority jobseekers, can someone help?

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 July, 2018, 4:30pm
UPDATED : Friday, 13 July, 2018, 4:30pm

Many applicants from Hong Kong’s ethnic minorities struggle to get decent jobs because of the language barrier, especially Cantonese (“Hong Kong teen’s dreams left in tatters because he can’t speak Chinese”, July 10). They need help on this issue.

I worked for a time in a restaurant, with a number of South Asian colleagues in the kitchen. Those colleagues were friendly but could speak neither Chinese nor English, which caused great difficulty in effective communication. When I asked them to give me some space to bring in boxes of crockery, they could barely understand my request.

I tried to express my concern to my supervisor. However, I was shocked when he told me that he couldn’t make himself understood either.

Therefore, the problem of the language barrier for all levels of jobs should be addressed. If the applicant needs a translator to understand questions from future employers, it is doubtful if they can understand simple instructions from supervisors.

Think about my colleagues in the restaurant, what would happen if they could not understand warnings from their colleagues in case of an emergency?

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The genuine solution is to provide training courses for the ethnic minority population to improve their proficiency in written Chinese and Cantonese. While the government provides alternative courses for young students, like the applied learning programme for senior secondary pupils, even though the uptake is less than satisfactory, adults get almost no help from the government to enhance their language ability and hence competitiveness in the workplace.

Henry Wong, Kennedy Town