Airport Authority Hong Kong – Youth Airport Ambassador Programme
Results & Impacts
- Nearly 1,000 young people provided with extensive training on customer service, communication and airport operation since 2002
- Of these, 70% continued to find employment within the airport community after completing the programme
- Around 30 Youth Airport Ambassadors have been recruited by AAHK
Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) has a high and rising demand for quality customer service personnel, with the number and complexity of customer enquiries increasing year-on-year. Recruiting the right people can be a challenge, due to factors such as location and low awareness of the opportunities amongst potential employees, particularly young people.
When the Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) first launched the Youth Airport Ambassador Programme (YAAP) in 2002, the aim was to provide a platform for young people to move into employment after leaving secondary school. AAHK felt it could play a role in nurturing their skills and increasing their chance to be employed, whilst also exposing them to career opportunities in customer service and the aviation industry.
YAAP targets school-leavers aged 18-24 who face challenges in finding work. Participants receive significant training and support, including induction training lasting for 10 days. This covers a range of areas, from airport knowledge and first aid to soft skills development such as communication. Refreshers and bespoke training are provided, as required, over the course of the one-year programme.
Youth Ambassadors are posted to various service locations across HKIA to handle enquiries from passengers and the general public. Youth Ambassadors are overseen by a supervisor at each location; and each of them is individually mentored by a Customer Service Officer.
At the end of the programme, Youth Ambassadors are invited to present on their progress and contribution to a judging panel involving AAHK and its programme partners. The winners are recognised in a ceremony at the Regal Airport Hotel, with Government officials and senior representatives from partner organisations attending. This is a special occasion for the young people to gain recognition for their achievement.
“We believe that supporting young people through their journey to employment is not only an opportunity but our social responsibility. It has the additional benefit of helping AAHK to provide a world-class service to visitors, and hence promoting a positive image for Hong Kong.”
– Rebecca Ho, Assistant General Manager, Customer Services, Airport Authority Hong Kong
The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG) is AAHK’s major partner for YAAP. They work closely together to recruit and employ young people to the programme every year and manage the programme to ensure continuous success. The two organisations meet regularly to review the programme, discuss participants’ performance and identify additional support needs.
The Hong Kong Government’s Labour Department played an important role in the formation of the programme. Its Youth Pre-employment Training Programme (PETP), established in 1999, provided a framework for companies to connect with young people seeking entry-level training and employment opportunities; AAHK was one of the first organisations to join. The Department continues to play a role by co-organising an annual employment exhibition for companies to publicise their programmes.
It is important that the programme be sensitive to the needs of all participants. The support of a social worker helps to engage the young people throughout the programme, while the development of additional ad hoc training ensures that those who wish to be stretched further are provided the right opportunities. In addition, to promote understanding between Youth Ambassadors and their supervisors, the latter are usually former Youth Ambassadors or the younger generation AAHK employees.
AAHK regards the YAAP as an important initiative that benefits both the airport and the wider community. Hence it has been supported by a dedicated airport operations team since its launch. Data is collected from participants and customers to monitor quality and impact, including through an annual follow-up survey conducted by HKFYG.
The major challenge for Youth Ambassadors is to adapt to a full-time working environment for the first time as well as to gain the required airport operation knowledge for the job. To address this, on-the-job training and mentoring is provided to help the Youth Ambassadors settle into their role and equip them to do their job.
Some Youth Ambassadors come from difficult backgrounds and face many life issues, such as family problems, which can make the transition into work more challenging. To address this, HKFYG provides a social worker on-site at HKIA to support those young people during times of stress. This mediation role ensures that the needs of young trainees are met, whilst ensuring continuity of high quality service to AAHK and its customers.