SCMP Monday, June 18, 2001

Staff still lack skills in English, survey says


Companies believe English is the most important retraining need for frontline and clerical staff, followed by elementary computer skills and Putonghua, a survey has found.
The Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management asked human resources heads at 67 companies to list the five most important areas in which their employees needed retraining, covering four career levels: frontline staff (workers who deal with the public), supervisors, middle-managers and top executives.
For supervisors, the top requirements listed were supervisory abilities and problem-solving skills, followed by English ability.
Fourth and fifth on the list for frontline workers were interpersonal skills and information technology, which is distinguished from basic computer skills.
The institute's president, Virginia Choi Wai-kam, said the survey was not detailed enough to show whether frontline employees' language skills were poor but did indicate that many workers' skills needed improvement.
Of the 67 companies, 22 per cent were in consulting or professional bodies, 15 per cent in import-export, 13 per cent in financial services and 50 per cent were classified as others. Forty-one companies in the survey employed more than 200 workers.
Management skills and strategic planning were respectively listed as the top retraining needs for middle-managers and top executives.
However, creativity - cited in last year's retraining list in the same sectors during dotcom fever - lost out this year to quality control.