By Poorna Rodrigo THE HR sector in Hong Kong has developed a new mentorship programme to coach young would-be personnel professionals so that they can get a head start in their career.

The programme called ‘”From School To Work” Buddy Programme’, initiated by the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management (HKIHRM), is set to be rolled out in January 2018 – marking the institute’s 40th anniversary.

The six months long programme will offer “one-on-one, peer-to-peer mentoring and coaching for HR students in their final year of study in universities and academic institutions about career aspirations and goals,” HKIHRM president David Li said. Such training, Li believes, will help HR students “develop the appropriate mindset, attitude and behaviour expected in the workplace, so that they can get well prepared for the transition”.

The buddy mentors are well poised for the role with several years of HR work experience, according to Li. They will offer student mentees “practical advice and useful tips helping them to make a smooth and successful transition from an academic environment to the workplace and equip the student mentees with knowledge of best HR practices and latest industry trends,” he added.

Topics shared by the buddy mentors in the programme are comprehensive – ranging from employers’ expectations, career planning, job search technique and interview skills, workplace etiquette and attitude, to communication skills among others.  Mentors and mentees are encouraged to meet at least once every two months and keep the communication active through emails and messaging apps throughout the programme period, Li explained.  

Barry Ip, a co-chairperson of HKIHRM learning and development committee with over 15 years of experience in being a mentor, will take part in this programme. With the world changing fast, he said: “We think the sooner we offer mentoring support to HR professionals during their early careers, the better” so that they can adjust their mindsets and be ready for the business challenges earlier.  

As part of ensuring quality, the buddy mentors will receive regular input and guidance from the institute’s executive council members who volunteer to be advisors of the programme. Executive council members have many years of mentoring experience and have participated in various mentorship programmes organised by the HKIHRM among other organisations.

Li called it “a well-meaning initiative” to engage the institute’s associate members while creating an opportunity for up-and-coming HR practitioners to “contribute back to the HR community by allowing them to share their experience with students who are about to embark on their initial career”.

The government of Hong Kong also considers mentorship to be a key element in developing talent. An SME Mentorship programme for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) run by the special administrative region’s trade and industry department under its Support of Consultation Centre for SMEs (SUCCESS) scheme is now running the ninth round of programme. “We provide SMEs, including business start-ups, with business information and consultation services free of charge in collaboration with various industrial and trade organisations, professional bodies, private enterprises and other government departments,” SUCCESS manager Nicholas Fung told People Management.

Fung agreed that mentorship provides professionals – or SME entrepreneurs in this case – a much – needed boost in their early stages of business to “learn from and be guided by accomplished entrepreneurs, senior executives, and professionals through one-on-one free counselling”.