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2-Shore 4-Place Employee Relations Forum

Published on Monday, 14 Sep 2015
Lawrence Hung, Vice President of HKIHRM
Frederick Lai Wing-hoi, Head of Caritas Youth and Community Service

Against a backdrop of global economic integration, rapid development of technologies and an intensive demand for skills and talent, the annual 2-Shore 4-Place Employee Relations Forum will focus on pressing human capital topics faced by businesses, HR management professionals and the wider community. 

Now in its 7th year, the forum provides a platform for business leaders, HR professionals and academia from Hong Kong, mainland China, Macau and Taiwan to exchange views and share insights into the latest HR trends and developments. The forum is organised by the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management (HKIHRM), and co-organised by the China Association for Labour Studies, Chung Hua Labour and Employment Relations Association and Macao Human Resources Association. The whole day event will take place on 23 September at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. 

Featuring a line-up of over 15 HR experts, academics and industry guest speakers, the forum will provide unique insights into the challenges of global talent management and opportunities for employee relation management under the mainland’s “new normal” framework. 

Lawrence Hung, Vice President of HKIHRM and a speaker of the forum, believes there are a number of factors contributing to the challenges and opportunities Hong Kong companies and HR departments need to consider. These include the high costs of office rental and staff remuneration – in comparison to southern China and other Asian countries, such as Singapore. At the same time, Hung believes Hong Kong companies lag behind other developed economies in adopting technology to perform strategic HR tasks. Meanwhile, intensified disagreements between the government and political parties over socio-economic issues have undermined the city’s business efficiency.

“The Hong Kong business environment is becoming more complicated and challenging to organisations, regarding employees’ wellness and fair treatment (i.e. minimum wage, equal opportunities, anti-discrimination, import of foreign labour and standard working hours),” says Hung, who is also the co-chairperson of the institute’s China and International HRM Committee. To keep themselves relevant with trends and developments, HR professionals should build a broad understanding of the local employment law and that of other places such as mainland China, especially when their company’s business presence extends beyond Hong Kong and their employees are becoming more international. 

With the search for talent a priority in all business sectors, Hung says human resources management (HRM) goes beyond simple recruitment and training. “HR practitioners need to be all-rounded,” says Hung, adding they also need keep abreast of the macro- and micro-economic environments, political climate, and industry trends. In view of its distinct role, he says the Education Bureau has identified HRM as the first cross-industry profession in the development and implementation of a qualifications framework, and the write-up of relevant competency standards has been commissioned to HKIHRM.

Addressing the issue of Hong Kong’s much talked about ageing society, Hung says it will be a challenge replacing a generation of departing workers with new blood. “Hong Kong companies need to be more flexible about employment contracts, more open-minded and embrace overseas talent,” Hung recommends. One solution could involve redeploying older members of the workforce and absorbing potential manpower from society. “Senior staff and retirees possess rich work experience, familiarity with corporate culture and professional knowledge,” says Hung. To further mitigate labour shortage, he says HR professionals have to be resourceful in implementing measures and policies to ensure a sustainable talent pipeline to support their companies’ long-term development. 

Hung also believes the HR role needs to evolve and transform so that professionals become a strategic asset to companies, and are able to offer well-planned HRM tactics. ”Visionary business leaders need to champion the crucial role an HR head plays and have them sit on the board of directors, where they can provide right direction and strategies for a company to maintain their business sustainability.” 

The forum will also provide an overview of the population policy in Hong Kong, updates on medical, retirement, social security and taxation policies in the four jurisdictions, and youth employment and engagement of younger members of the workforce.

Another speaker Frederick Lai Wing-hoi, head of Caritas Youth and Community Service, says his presentation will focus on the various ways the Caritas Computer Recycling programme offers young people the opportunity to learn valuable on-the-job computing and technical skills. As part of the programme, launched in 2000, young people refurbish computer equipment that is donated to Hong Kong’s underprivileged families, young adults and elderly. “The forum will be a good platform to raise awareness about the importance vocational training can make in preparing young people to join the workforce,” says Lai.

Last year more than 90,000 computers and accessories were donated to the project by banks and large organisations, such as the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Lai says the training programme is targeted towards young people that struggle to find employment or didn’t excel in traditional academic areas. “For young people who have difficulty finding work in the open market, vocational courses offer an excellent chance to develop vital skills required by employers,” says Lai, who adds the challenge of finding a job becomes tougher the longer an individual remains unemployed. Under the guidance of volunteer computer and IT specialists, young people learn how to rebuild computers, install software and learn coding. In some cases, graduates from the programme set up their own businesses. 

With ever-increasing competition for people with the right skills, Lai says that employers should weigh up the value of employing jobseekers with practical on-the job experience instead of simply looking for candidates with a degree. He says that in a society that tends to place high value on academic accomplishments, the benefits of vocational training are considerable. For example, graduates from the Caritas Computer Recycling programme have the practical skills and hands-on knowledge that allow them to immediately contribute value to an organisation. “Young people that join the programme learn about communication, teamwork and taking responsibility, the same skills that many employers say they look for,” says Lai, who sits on various government welfare committees.

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