Many university and vocational college graduates find the first steps into the job market difficult to make. To address this, the Champions Education Association and Citibank last year joined forces to promote the Champions A+ Placement program jobs development initiative.
The aim was to help graduates about to enter the job market prepare themselves through expert careers counseling services and mentoring, and by arming them with the aspiration and passion to take this first step to realizing their dreams.
Taiwan had an unemployment rate of 3.82 percent in July, with the 15-to-24 age bracket having the highest jobless rate at 12.25 percent, figures from the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics showed.
Photo courtesy of Citi Foundation
Hsin Ping-lung (辛炳隆), a professor at the National Taiwan University Graduate Institute of National Development, attributed the high rate of unemployment among the young to the lack of work experience of new graduates, making it difficult for them to make inroads in the job market.
According to Citibank Taiwan Head of Government Affairs and Country Corporate Affairs April Pan (潘玲嬌), Citigroup in 2015 conducted a survey based upon the Youth Economic Strategy Index devised by the Economist Intelligence Unit to better understand how young people view their prospects, establish what factors would be most helpful for them and create a conducive economic environment.
The survey found that while young people have access to good educational resources and information technology, they lack the practical resources to make that smooth transition to the job market.
With the support of the Citi Foundation, Citibank and the Champions Education Association joined hands to promote the Champions A+ Placement program to help people enter the job market. The initiative took place in Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung, focusing on designing employment development plans for people aged 16 to 24 through careers exploration workshops, and by providing careers consultants specializing in cultivating experience and sympathetic mentors with experience in the job market.
At the workshops, young people are encouraged to be clear about their goals, and to have the courage to chase their dreams and take that first step.
Since its inception last year, the Champions A+ Placement program has helped more than 200 young people, 30 percent of whom were from economically disadvantaged households. The program has most often encountered university seniors who were unsure of what direction they would like to move in or what their goals are.
After attending the workshops, 80 percent of the students were clear about their goals and had made a decision about whether they would like to continue their education or enter the job market.
The initiative incorporates advice on writing resumes and individual mentoring, with careers consultants catering to individual students’ needs, as well as conducting mock interviews.
Eighty percent of the students who attended said that with the assistance, they improved their resumes and increased their chances of an interview.
Unlike other programs aimed at getting young people into work, the Champions A+ Placement program focuses on specialist careers consultations, and hands-on mentoring and encouragement throughout the job hunting process, giving students more self-confidence.
Given the rapid changes in the environment and the huge increases in information, the students are asked to concentrate on their goals and to identify which jobs suit their skill sets and interests. They are encouraged to develop a consistent approach to their problems and to have the courage to break through obstacles.
Chang Chia-chen (張家珍), a careers development consultant with the initiative, recalled how many students had said that their families did not take their dreams seriously, which left them discouraged or unclear over how to proceed.
In such circumstances, counselors had the students refocus on their dreams and goals, and use effective communication strategies to obtain the support of family members, Chang said.
The second Champions A+ Placement program is to begin in Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung this month. In addition to the more traditional employment models, there will be an extra component for freelancing and entrepreneurship, concentrating on the smart economy and digital technologies. The program seeks to help 100 young people enter the traditional job market and another 50 people secure their income goals through the freelance and entrepreneurial models in the digital economy.
“New university graduates looking for their first job lack the help they need from people with more experience,” Champions Education Association director Huang Tai-chu (黃臺珠) said. “With the right careers consultancy program covering aspects from self-exploration to setting personal development plans, students can develop a more practical approach to achieving their dreams, developing themselves and finding a job. In this, the role of the Champions Education Association is to serve as a dream incubator.”
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