In Hong Kong, foreign domestic helpers represent 350,000 workers coming mainly from the Philippines or Indonesia. They live and work at their employer’s home and are in charge of the housekeeping, groceries, and taking care of the children or elderly. Hong Kong’s lack of affordable care services makes them critical for the city’s economy, but domestic workers claim that their rights that are regularly trampled on. HelperChoice, a social start-up, has launched a new initiative to help domestic workers to develop their skills and provide them with the same right to training as the other workers in Hong Kong.
Domestic workers, who are mainly women, are very often the breadwinners for their families who remain in their home countries, and they dedicate their working lives so that their families can have a better future. They see training as a way to grow and increase their skills, but also as a way to be better at what they do. The training market in Hong Kong is very fragmented, and it is difficult to find training offerings dedicated to domestic workers that are also affordable. As a result, 89% of domestic workers* are not offered training by their employers. HelperChoice, the Hong Kong social platform connecting helpers and employers, created an Academy at the end of February 2018 to encourage employers to sponsor their domestic helper’s training through a monthly subscription.
“This is a win-win situation: helpers can improve their skills and learn new things that are useful and directly applicable to their daily jobs, while employers can benefit from the new skills acquired,” Laurence Fauchon, HelperChoice Director said. The HelperChoice Academy subscription gives domestic helpers an unlimited access to training classes such as cooking, baking, sewing, financial management, and communication in English. The team has worked with training professionals in each area in order to come up with a comprehensive curriculum, while making sure the monthly price paid by members stays low. Domestic helpers and employers can choose their preferred classes, given their preferences and the helper’s availability.
The first workshop took place at the end of March and the participants learned how to improve their communication skills in English. Based on real-life cases and communication issues the helpers may have with their employers, the participants had to find a way to express clearly a situation and propose solutions. The instructor took advantage of those presentations to correct grammar or spelling mistakes, and gave them a list of tools and online resources so that they can keep on improving their English skills after the workshop.
More workshops are planned in the coming months and, starting with one or two classes per month, the Academy will increase the number of classes throughout this year and will introduce a more diverse range of classes, such as elderly care and first-aid.
* 89% of domestic helpers replied “never” to the question “How often does your employer offer you training?” Survey conducted by HelperChoice from 9th until 15th of October 2017 among about 250 domestic helpers.