Portal into the future

The covid-19 pandemic has not only affected the scheduling of students’ classes and exams; it has also caused career-planning events to be suspended. This, however, is not an issue for people on the I Am Youth Portal.

Launched by Hang Seng Bank and St James’ Settlement in September, the portal’s website and app connect academic career planning consultants with people aged 15 to 29.

This helps them to make more informed decisions as they pursue their personal ambitions via customized online mentorships and information updates.

“Traditional career planning relies on face-to-face consultations and merely provides hard facts and statistics,” said Chan Po-sing, project manager of the portal.”Generation Z are digital natives, so we need a new communication platform that suits the habits of young people.”

Instead of searching different discussion forums to try to identify suitable information, users can find targeted resources for their exact area of interest through real-time chats with qualified mentors via the portal.

Mentors and users are matched based on background and work experience through the portal’s use of artificial intelligence and data analytics.

Chan said the portal has recruited 106 academic mentors who are students in tertiary institutions, or newcomers to the job market, and 140 career mentors who are aged 21 to 35 and have three or more years of full-time job experience.

At least 25 industries, such as finance, education, IT and engineering are covered by the portal, and all mentors are required to receive 18 hours of consultant training and to be able to answer related questions.

“Our mentors are well equipped with recent personal experience that they can share, and are equipped with, and have a better understanding of the mindset of youths,” said Chan.

Hansen Wong, a user from SKH Tsoi Kung Po Secondary School, said: “I sometimes feel embarrassed having face-to-face conversations, but I feel more comfortable chatting with my mentor through texting.”

Chan said: “Instead of a top-down guiding role, the peer-to-peer approach encourages more open and direct communications.”

During the class suspension, the portal also conducts Flash Ask on Fire online chat rooms based on different industries to discuss the latest developments, further studies and other related topics.

The chatrooms allow students to ask mentors questions directly, and have attracted more than 700 views in six days.

Starting from February 17, the portal has also launched 22 Facebook and Instagram live sessions, which invited secondary school teachers and representatives from colleges and universities to speak.

Topics include how to choose subjects, targeting secondary three students, exam tips for taking the HKDSE and college program introductions.

Highlight video clips will be uploaded to the portal for students to review. In response to work-from-home and study-at-home arrangements, the portal also has articles to let users know what they can do while staying home.

These include, for example, tips for self-study and ways to improve productivity at home.

Apart for online mentorship and career and academic information, regular content includes personality tests, which help young people identify their interests, assess their capabilities and gain insights into potential career paths.

Test results can be converted into shareable graphics that allow users to compare them with those of their peers.

In-Real-Life career and life planning workshops and company visits enrich the online experience to further broaden young people’s horizons on their future personal and professional development.

(This article was published at The Standard on April 7, 2020: Education: Portal into the future )

200407 Portal into the future

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