In Hong Kong, anyone seeking employment, looking to improve or expand a skillset, or forge a career path would consider ERB courses as an important resource. The Employees Retraining Board (ERB) co-ordinates, funds and monitors job training courses and provides employment services to prepare job seekers to meet the challenges of a competitive job market. Founded in 1992, the ERB is an independent statutory body formed under the Employees Retraining Ordinance encompassing roughly 410 training centers across Hong Kong. With more than 800 training courses across nearly 30 industries, the ERB serves as an entry point to a myriad of potential careers. The ERB provides people starting out a sound foundation that will pave the way for career development.
Placement-tied Courses cover a wide-range of industries from real estate to beauty therapy to social services and many others. All placement-tied courses are generally full-time and have the same basic goal of training unemployed candidates with the skills specific to a given industry and provide follow-up services to assist in finding employment. Placement-tied courses also offer help in developing basic job search and interview skills.
Generic Skills Training Courses are part-time courses intended to equip employees with skills that are transferable across different industries, such as languages, basic accounting, and basic computer skills. Generic skills training courses are ideal for people who are currently employed, but are looking for more challenging jobs or want to be more marketable to other companies.
Courses for Special Service Targets are aimed at groups needing extra attention in adapting to the workplace. Among these groups are "new arrivals, persons with disabilities, persons recovered from work injuries, ethnic minorities, and rehabilitated ex-drug abusers and ex-offenders." The overall goal is to help them integrate into society and become self-sufficient.
Youth Training Courses can fall under the banners of “Employment Set Sail for Youth” courses or “Youth Training Programme” and are designed to help those between the ages of 15 and 20. “Employment Set Sail for Youth” programmes are designed to give recent graduates acquire transferable job skills. The Youth Training Programme helps youth who have not graduated secondary school actively plan for their future.
“Skills Upgrading Scheme Plus” (SUS Plus) Courses focus on vocational training across different industries. The overarching goal is to enhance existing skills and develop a set of multi-dimensional skills that will empower workers and provide them greater job mobility.
The ERB also offers a wealth of services beyond ERB Courses. There are specialized programmes for post-natal baby and childcare helpers. The “ERB Manpower Developer Award Scheme” was developed to recognize organizations that excel in providing opportunities to employees. The ERB also runs the Practical Skills Training and Assessment Centre (PSTAC). PSTAC uses a standardized method of evaluating employees' skills and awards them with public recognition, helping to bolstering one's resume when job hunting.
The ERB not only works with employers, but with employees as well. Their job matching and referral service help trainees utilize their skills in the right positions. Their Industry Service Programme allows companies to promote themselves and take recruitment initiatives. Their "Tailor-made Programme" helps companies fill positions that require specialized skills.
For over 20 years, the ERB has been dedicated to giving its trainees the opportunity to find employment, improve their current skillset, find a way to move up in employment, and find better-paying jobs. The government of Hong Kong recently allotted HK$15 billion for the Employees Retraining Fund in 2013-14 to provide the ERB with stable and sustainable financial support. Clearly, the government sees the successes that have resulted from the work of the Employees Retraining Board and the ERB Courses.
David Taylor has been teaching ERB courses for five years in Asia and enjoys teaching and travelling.