Since 2021, the CareER Thriving Grass Career Development Program (Thriving Grass Program) has been on an incredible three-year journey, bravely navigating through various employment landscapes and facing significant challenges along the way. From the time before the pandemic hit, through the chaotic outbreak, and the aftermath that followed, this program has shown remarkable adaptability in changing circumstances.
In this article, Walter Tsui, the Co-Founder and CEO of CareER, provides valuable insights into the dynamic market changes and highlights the invaluable partnerships that have accompanied this exciting journey.
📍How have the rapidly changing circumstances influenced the perspective on Diversity and Inclusive (D&I) employment in Hong Kong?
Initially, inclusive employment was unfamiliar to many. However, during the mid-phase of the pandemic, there was a significant economic downturn and talent outflow in Hong Kong, while the advancement of ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) was developing, an increasing number of companies started considering inclusive employment and paying attention to the needs of different social groups. However, we also observed that many companies were unsure of how to start with inclusive employment. These changes have presented us with more challenges.
Yet, in the face of difficulties, we are never alone. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the unwavering support and trust from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, which has been crucial in enabling us to provide a diverse range of employment opportunities in the market. This support has also allowed us to collaborate with different NGO partners such as SAHK, Heep Hong Society, St. James Settlement and The University of Hong Kong. We also express our deep appreciation for the invaluable contribution of our career coaches, counsellors, and the dedicated CareER team who have remained on the front lines. Additionally, we recognize the significant role played by employers from different industries in creating a more inclusive employment environment. Together, all parties have made remarkable contributions to our collective mission.
📍Can you share with us the achievements of the pioneering job-matching program?
Achievements of the Thriving Grass Program have been significant. Firstly, we have successfully attracted individuals with diverse educational backgrounds and expertise, such as engineering, law, business administration and social sciences. This diverse talent pool has greatly enriched our program, prompting us to allocate more resources for expansion. We aim to extend our reach to enterprises of all sizes and a variety of industries, including engineering, retail, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), and even fashion. The demand in these areas has been notable, enabling us to create a wider range of employment opportunities.
In terms of job internships, we have increased the number of placements from around 50 per year to over 60 this year. Our collaborations now extend to over 30 companies, encompassing large corporations, start-ups, social enterprises, and non-profit organizations. This extensive network has contributed to the growth of our alumni community.
Apart from employment opportunities, our program also provides professional training, coaching and counselling to our members. Each year, we assist over 100 members in clarifying their career directions. We strongly believe the knowledge and guidance they receive through our program play a crucial role in their personal growth and enable them to shine in their chosen paths.
📍Which area do you envision improving to enhance the Thriving Grass Program?
We would like to establish a more consistent practice of alumni sharing their experiences with our junior members, fostering stronger bonds among higher-educated individuals with disabilities. In addition to sharing joyful and inspiring moments, we aim for our alumni to authentically communicate the challenges, difficulties, and even the harsh realities they encountered during internships and in the workplace. Our goal is to create a genuine space where everyone can gain a deep understanding of the business world and the dynamics of the workplace environment. CareER is willing to walk hand in hand with everyone as we navigate this challenging professional realm together.
Looking ahead, we hope to forge more partnerships with organizations, collectively providing better support for our members and empowering them to take significant strides in the workplace.