Raising the bar
Zhao Chongwei is a Form Five school leaver from China. He is currently attending the Construction Industry Council's (CIC) bar-bending course under the Enhanced Construction Manpower Training Scheme (ECMTS). The full-time course lasts for about three months.
What attracted you to the construction industry?
My father is a plasterer and bricklayer and seeing his success influenced my decision. Construction jobs are skilful and technical. Workers with good skills and experience are paid well. I thought that compared to my previous jobs in IT and transportation, jobs in the construction industry are more sustainable and secure due to continuous urbanisation and Hong Kong's prosperous property market. This drove me to join the industry as a waterproofing worker five years ago. My daily wage at the time was about HK$700.
Why did you apply for the CIC course?
In early 2012, I saw a TV documentary called A Dream Comes True, which featured bar-bending work, so I applied and was admitted onto the CIC course. Qualified tradesmen in bar-bending can earn HK$1,400 a day or above, which is also very attractive to me as I need to support my wife and two-year old child. The bar-bending trade is also now facing an acute ageing problem and manpower shortage, so there are many job and promotion opportunities for young workers.
What are your career goals?
I want to continue to sharpen my skill level and in the short term obtain the qualification of tradesman and earn an even better living. I also hope to pick up people and business-management skills from my bosses. Eventually I would like to set up my own contracting business.
How do you think you are benefiting from the CIC programme?
I have acquired the necessary skills and knowledge needed for bar-bending, as well as a recognised accreditation of my skill level. Additionally, the job-placement service will help me find employment shortly after graduation, so I can quickly apply what I have learned from the course.
As a father, I need to earn a living for my family. It would be impossible for me to suspend work to learn a new job skill without the ECMTS, which provides free and quality training, and also an HK$8,000 a month training allowance to each trainee. With sufficient financial support from the CIC, I can pursue my career plan and provide a better future for my family and myself.
What advice can you give those who want to work in construction?
I advise undertaking a recognised training scheme to get into the construction industry. Many jobs in industries such as IT, logistics, banking and manufacturing can easily be moved across the border, so are not very secure. However construction mainly serves and operates locally, which means a certain level of demand for local workers. With so many large infrastructure projects coming up over the next few years, I expect a prosperous future.