In the past 10 years, publishing has gone through radical changes - and it is still facing many challenges. Hong Kong's student population is declining, the education system is changing, and publishing is facing serious competition from the multi-media environment, with electronic publishing becoming more mature and the internet taking over some of its traditional functions.
To help young professionals navigate this landscape, Oxford University Press (China) launched a management training programme in 2009 in Hong Kong for both their internal university graduates and graduates from other institutions. The aim was to offer all-round industry training to those with up to two years of work experience.
"Nowadays, demands are more diversified. We need people who can respond to changes in the business environment and can anticipate change," says Ben Mak, deputy regional director, and the architect of the comprehensive training programme.
Students of the two-year scheme will focus on structured learning, skills training, job rotation and working for another company.
"The focus is on the candidate's attitude and potential," says Mak.
The programme is most suited to those who have curiosity and are willing to try new things because, "you have to do so many things, from talking to teachers to selling books and promoting," Mak adds.
Candidates should be fluent in Cantonese and English, be able to write well and be confident public speakers. They must also be good team players.
"The programme follows a modular structure. Topics include the birth of a book, from proposal to editing and promoting, review writing and studying e-learning models and acquaintance with business partners, from printers to illustrators," says assistant editor Samuel Chan, who is a student of the programme.
Other aspects include getting to know the customer, selling, marketing and communicating. Students also learn basic accounting and business forecasting, and soft skills such as personal development techniques.
Students spend six months on the course with another company, from public relations to research and telecoms firms. "The purpose [of this placement] is to stimulate thinking from a different angle. There is no one way of doing business or being human," says Mak.
Students also rotate departments every trimester. Chan found this aspect very rewarding. "Working on a project involves cooperation. Now that I understand [other departments] better, I can anticipate what they need," says Chan.
"After finishing the course, graduates start at a junior level, but we expect them to develop quickly. It takes four to five years before they will handle a project independently," Mak adds.