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Internship program helps grads find work in tough job market
By Peggy Chan (HK Edition)
Updated: 2009-08-22 07:32

HONG KONG: A government internship program has put over 100 fresh university graduates in the labor market and more placements could become available next month.

The program has received more than 4,400 applications from 12 local tertiary institutions since it started August 1. In the program, there are about 7,300 job vacancies offered by commercial enterprises, with 6,200 from Hong Kong and the rest from the mainland.

Raymond Ho Kam-biu, the program senior labor officer, believed there would be more job opportunities early next month.

For a local intern, the government will pay a monthly subsidy of HK$2,000, with the employers being required to pay no less than this amount, meaning that a graduate will have a monthly income of no less than HK$4,000.

Ho played down worries that the graduates would be underpaid as over 75 percent of the jobs offer a monthly salary of HK$8,000 or above and the highest amounts to HK$17,000.

Over 100 applicants have found their matched jobs in the past two weeks.

Among them are Alice Fu and Joseph Fu, construction and land use graduates from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. They are two of the six interns in Urban Group, a property management company and a subsidiary of NWS Holdings.

Joseph Fu has been looking for a job since last September but his efforts failed due to the poor economy. He learned about the internship program last month through the university.

"The process of application is quite difficult but now I can work in a property management company which is relevant to my field of study," he said.

His counterpart also felt grateful to be offered a job amid the financial turmoil. She has sent more than 100 application letters since March with no response.

The group executive director Francis Chiu found the internship program helpful to find the right candidate to support the operation.

"There is a serious shortage of talents in property management at the moment," he said.

Under the program, interns will receive training of six to 12 months in local or mainland enterprises.

A mainland securities company will offer 30 vacancies in its Shanghai office and 10 in its Hong Kong branch. It has received 250 applications.

"Our connection with Hong Kong universities was weak in the past but the program allows us to look for talents to help expand our business. Those who perform well can stay in our company after the internship," said Li Jianguo, chairman of Hai Tong Finance Holdings.

To further support graduates in mainland companies, the government has launched on its website details of insurance discounts offered by five airlines. A round trip will cost about HK$800.

Interns on the mainland do not receive pay but are entitled to an allowance of HK$4,500 each month.

However, the recruitment is still under way as mainland enterprises take time to organize the applications, Ho said.

Interested graduates can attend two talks arranged September 4 and 25 to learn more about the program.

(HK Edition 08/22/2009 page4)