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Jockey Club trains winners

At the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC), employer branding is very much about the club’s personality and how its many attributes work together to promote the attraction, motivation, retention and engagement of talent.

Underlying the club’s employer brand is its employee value proposition (EVP), which reflects its culture, values, work environment and people.

At the Employer Branding Conference, Mimi Cunningham, director of HR and sustainability at HKJC, will explain how integrated HR programmes and initiatives are enhancing the club’s employer branding while helping it meet its business needs.
Cunningham says the club’s EVP is made up of four key concepts: “we connect with HK”, “world-class status, here in HK”, “unique, diverse and complex” and “forward-looking, constantly evolving and developing”.

She adds that despite the club having a wide range of diverse business operations, all departments share a common goal: one club, one team, one vision. “This means we have to have very strong value propositions that can connect different teams together,” Cunningham says.

The club proactively reviews its EVP to ensure it is always authentic, compelling and differentiated. “HKJC has always been consistent in upholding the highest standards of integrity in all activities,” Cunningham says. “This commitment takes many forms, from non-discrimination policies and procedures guiding business practices on equal opportunities, discrimination and harassment, to proactively investing in and supporting employee development, wellness and volunteering.”

At HKJC, successful employer branding is also about teamwork. The club uses an array of tools and methodologies to spearhead employer engagement efforts, Cunningham says.

“On top of, and through, close collaboration with different departments, we actively encourage staff to participate in CSR initiatives such as green and sustainability programmes, Cadenza [an HKJC initiative targeting senior citizens] and staff volunteering to resonate in terms of employer value, both with the community at large and among potential and current employees,” she says.

To encourage employee growth and development, the HKJC holds an average of 234 courses of learning activities per year, equating to roughly 440,000 training hours.

One of the club’s key initiatives in supporting its employees’ learning aspirations is the HKJC College. The institution provides qualified training courses that are officially recognised under the Qualifications Framework in Hong Kong. It also helps employees improve their skills and build up their confidence and marketability by providing formal qualifications through the Recognition of Prior Learning scheme.

“The HKJC College has become a key pillar in our CSR employer brand, which is increasingly one of the major considerations for graduates in choosing an employer. During the last management trainee programme intake, HKJC received close to 3,000 applications from graduates,” Cunningham says.

To date, more than 570 employees have graduated from the college since its inception in 2011.

The club also introduced a new college initiative this year in the form of a comprehensive four-year apprenticeship scheme called “The Rising Star Programme”. The programme is designed to open the door for young staff to progressive career development and continuous education, benchmarked at the associate degree level in the academic structure.

The club has introduced the programme to respond to Hong Kong’s changing labour environment and the potential challenges faced by members of the so-called Generation Y. It aims to supplement vocational training in the city by offering structured, blended opportunities for learning and personal development to school leavers, while addressing the business needs of the club.

Cunningham says that, “by encouraging them to become life-long learners, the programme not only benefits the employees and the club, but also the Hong Kong community.”

Under the programme, 70 per cent of the trainees’ time will be allocated for gaining practical work experience across assigned business streams, while 25 per cent will be for attending development courses, including formal free education up to Qualifications Framework level 4 – the equivalent to an associate degree programme. The remaining 5 per cent of the trainees’ schedule will be devoted to participation in charity and community work.

In addition, trainees will receive a monthly salary and other benefits during the course of the earn-and-learn programme. “The eventual goal is to recruit 1,000 trainees or Rising Stars into the Club by 2020,” Cunningham says.