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Engineers get structured start
Published on Thursday, 20 Jan 2011
Chun Wo human resources manager Wilfred Chau (centre) with engineering management trainees Nick Ma Qi (left) and Benny Lam, who are part of the Elite Training Programme.
Photo: Felix Wong

Engineering trainees are expected to become the leaders who will shape the industry. Chun Wo Construction and Engineering has made it its mission to provide a comprehensive programme to help them perfect their skills, knowledge and managerial abilities.

"Our management training programme is different because we provide our trainees with all-round training that enables them to enhance their engineering knowledge, as well as management skills, rather than only focusing on technical knowledge," says Wilfred Chau Chung-yau, human resources manager at Chun Wo.

The company launched its Elite Training Programme in 2002, hoping to recruit several trainees every year specialising in areas such as electrical and mechanical (E&M) and civil engineering and quantity surveying (QS). There is also a new component for architects needed for property development.

"We were given the opportunity to enhance our engineering and management skills, as well as get to know more about the business and each department," says Benny Lam Hoi-ching, management trainee for engineering.

Nick Ma Qi, another engineering management trainee, says: "The challenges of the management training programme come from the fact that we are not only tested on our textbook knowledge but, more importantly, also on how we apply these skills and knowledge to practical use."

The company says applicants should be able to stand out from the competition and be born leaders, assertive, confident, good communicators and capable of logical thinking and solving complex problems.

After applicants are screened based on their academic background and profiles, shortlisted candidates will be invited to participate in a debate.

"We test applicants on their day-to-day knowledge and on hot topics," Chau says. "By doing so, we aim to test their thinking process, logic, confidence in presenting their ideas in a limited period of time, leadership skills and potential, and communication skills."

For the debate, applicants are grouped into two eight-member teams, taking opposite positions on a given issue in front of a panel of four to five judges from the company's senior management.

Applicants who make it through the first screening are then given a week or two to prepare an individual presentation to senior managers.

"We judge the applicants' language skills, presentation skills, as well as knowledge of the company and the business during the second screening," Chau says. "This is also a good time for them to express their expectations of the job, aspirations and preferred career path."

As the judges get to know the applicants more from the second screening, shortlisted candidates will be ranked and the number of trainees recruited will depend on the quality of candidates and business needs.

"Our first batch of management trainees is now working as assistant project managers or section heads

for our large-scale projects, or as project managers for smaller projects," Chau says.


Training checklist

  • Applicants must have a recognised engineering or quality surveying degree
  • Chun Wo Construction and Engineering recruits local and overseas trainees
  • The firm's recruitment talks at local universities will start in February
  • Fresh graduates and those with working experience are welcome to apply
  • The management training programme includes job rotations and a mentoring programme

Opportunity to build on solid foundations

Employment prospects in the construction sector will remain positive during the first quarter, according to our most recent survey of hiring trends. In large part, this is attributable to the continuing effects of government stimulus measures.

Major infrastructure projects have been a particular boon for people with extensive construction management experience. Employers are also on the lookout for candidates with mainland experience.

With no sign of a let-up in the mainland's construction boom, companies see the long-term importance of having staff well versed in relevant regulations and familiar with the operating environment. This includes understanding trends in the mainland construction sector and knowing how to manage workers and monitor progress in places where expectations and cultural values can differ from those in Hong Kong.

To stand out, candidates should have recognised industry qualifications and top-level soft skills. On most projects, they will need to collaborate with stakeholders at all levels, showing they are able to oversee budgets, stick to schedules and ensure quality control.

While work is available and hiring continues, a survey by a CPA firm indicated that corporate profit margins in the sector are shrinking.Lancy Chui, managing director of Manpower Hong Kong, Macau and Vietnam operations.

Lancy Chui, managing director of Manpower Hong Kong, Macau and Vietnam operations