‘Give them a chance to shine’: Hong Kong government urged to provide better job support for young people from ethnic minorities

‘Give them a chance to shine’: Hong Kong government urged to provide better job support for young people from ethnic minorities

The government should do more to develop job opportunities for young people belonging to ethnic minorities, an NGO has said, after a survey found that more than 80 per cent were unable to find internships in Hong Kong.

KELY Support Group on Tuesday also said schools should provide more career support for young members of ethnic minorities, arguing that companies could benefit from diverse cultural backgrounds and talent.

“The government may consider to really take the lead and develop more policies to encourage [ethnic minority] employment, so that young people from these backgrounds will be able to have equality in the workplace,” said Cindy Ng Tsz-man, the group’s senior manager for programmes and services.

“It’s important for us … to really understand [that] internships are not just a chance for them to work, but it’s also their first contact with our society in a workplace concept.”

Student Atteqa Khan is among those who have benefited from the NGO’s programme. Photo: Eugene Lee

The organisation surveyed 509 people aged 16 to 25. About 64 per cent were from non-Chinese Asian minorities, while smaller percentages were from other minority groups such as African and Middle Eastern.

It found that 82 per cent of respondents had no internship experience, despite about three-quarters considering it the most valuable resource for identifying a career path.

Among those surveyed, only 17 per cent of respondents spoke Cantonese as their first language, compared with 63 per cent who spoke English. An additional 15 per cent spoke Cantonese as a second language.

But Ng said that while language barriers were a “big” hurdle they faced, schools had also failed to provide adequate resources and education for them to explore career opportunities.

She said that many were unsure of where to find a job and lacked mentors who could help them navigate career choices. This in turn was creating mental health issues such as anxiety and a lack of confidence, she added.

“If the school could be able to direct them, it will be much easier,” she said.

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To help alleviate some of the pressure, the group developed the Open Door Work Placement Programme to help connect young people from ethnic minorities with internship opportunities.

Since last year, the programme has provided 20 with job placements at 10 different small-to-medium-sized enterprises.

Atteqa Khan, a 19-year-old Pakistani woman studying for her bachelor of business administration at the University of Hong Kong, said she struggled to find work after finishing her entrance exams last year, despite searching multiple platforms.

Hong Kong’s ethnic minority jobseekers held back by lack of Cantonese: survey

Through the programme, she was able to find an internship with a company doing administrative tasks such as data entry.

“I’m really grateful for such opportunities,” she said, adding that she continued to work part-time for the company.

Wayne Fong Wai, head of corporate affairs for Prudential Hong Kong, which worked with KELY Support Group to develop its work placement programme, argued that young members of ethnic minorities were a talent pool that companies could tap.

“They can truly contribute to the economic development of Hong Kong if we give them a chance to shine,” he said.



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