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Published on Friday, 28 Jun 2013
CEO Stephen Yau believes ISS-HK’s diverse range of services provides a perfect learning ground.
Photo: Jonathan Wong

ISS-HK is opening doors for top social services staff

The Hong Kong branch of International Social Service (ISS) – an organisation which helps people confronted with social problems involving two or more countries – is looking for dedicated individuals to join its service for asylum seekers and torture claimants.

ISS-HK chief executive Stephen Yau says they are looking for an assistant programme director, social workers and counsellors.

The assistant programme director will lead a team of social workers in implementing and improving the service for asylum seekers and torture claimants. The candidate should have a degree in social work, or a discipline related to counselling, and at least five years of experience working in a supervisory role with asylum-seekers, torture claimants and refugees.

Yau says he is looking for someone with strong leadership and management skills to fill the post. “The director has to work with government and non-government community organisations, and a network of agencies in Hong Kong and overseas,” he says. “He or she should have proven supervisory skills in managing programmes and multi-cultural staff.”

Social workers and counsellors will be involved in handling cases. “Registered social workers who have experience with ethnic minorities, migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees will be at a distinct advantage for the job,” Yau says.

At ISS-HK, staff can expect an open working culture and plenty of opportunities for career advancement. “We have a flat hierarchy in our organisation. Supervisors and staff meet regularly to discuss what can be done to improve our service and working environment. Recently, for example, we introduced paternity leave for our male employees in response to staff requests,” Yau says.

“We are an organisation that is dedicated to creating a happy and positive workplace for staff. This is reflected by our low turnover rate – more than half of our staff have worked with us for more than five years.”

The organisation also provides training to help its staff all over the world broaden their horizons. “As an international organisation, ISS is capable of providing various overseas visits for its staff. Last year, we visited ISS branches in Britain and Switzerland so that staff could learn about operations in those countries. We also provide financial support for staff who want to further their education,” he says.

Yau sees ISS-HK as the perfect place for a social-service career because of the diverse services the organisation offers. “We have services for families, for children and youths, and for the elderly, as well as for migrants, asylum seekers, torture claimants, ethnic minorities and refugees. Staff can choose to specialise in different services, as well as transfer between different service units,” he says.

Ann Lo Kwan-nga, assistant programme director of ISS-HK’s Integrated Family Service Centres, joined the organisation in 2004. She says she has been impressed with how the organisation supports staff training.

“I studied my master’s degree in counselling while working for ISS-HK,” she says. “The organisation was very kind to allow me to adjust my working hours so that I could attend classes and go on placements to fulfil the requirements of the programme.”

Two years ago, the organisation also arranged for Lo to go to Japan to observe the social-service environment there. “It was an eye-opening experience and I am thankful to the organisation for giving me the opportunity,” she says.

Lo wants to stay at ISS-HK because of the opportunities and resources it gives her to develop her career. “ISS gives staff plenty of freedom to pursue projects they want to do,” she says. “I just started a drama group for residents in Tin Shui Wai because I wanted to provide more than just case follow-ups. The group helps bring positive energy to single parents, the unemployed and others in need through drama performances. ISS has been very supportive in providing me with the resources I need to run the project.”

Lo advises people planning to join ISS to have a patient outlook. “ISS is a huge organisation with a wide range of services. It is a great place for young people to develop their career because of the exposure they can get, but it takes time and effort to understand how it all works because the organisation so big,” she says.

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