To ensure the provision of a reliable and quality water supply service, the frontline work of the Water Supplies Department (WSD) is very crucial and our artisans have played an indispensable role. Since 2015 WSD has run an apprentice training scheme to nurture artisans, recruiting about ten Technician Trainee II (Waterworks) each year and offering them a series of on-the-job training. Early this year, the first female apprentice under the scheme, Ms KAO Fuk-yee, Koey, received the Outstanding Apprentices Award by the Vocational Training Council, giving the department a shot in the arm for its dedication to training young people to join the industry. This time, I have particularly invited her to share with us her training, work experience and future expectations.
Turning to waterworks from business
In 2016, at the suggestion of her friend, she, as a fresh graduate from an associate degree in Business, began to reckon that the engineering discipline had good development potential. She decided to give up pursuing a business career and turn to working in waterworks by studying the Basic Craft Course (Plumbing and Pipefitting) offered by the Construction Industry Council. In the same year, she had obtained an offer from the WSD and became its first female apprentice. During the training period, she was enrolling in the Craft Certificate in Plumbing and Pipefitting while undergoing the internship. Upon completion of the apprentice training scheme last year, she was employed by the WSD as an artisan.
Practical and professional training
During the two-year apprentice training, Koey was assigned to take up internship in various positions within the department, for example, learning the water treatment processes and the corresponding water quality monitoring procedures; learning how to use devices to detect the whereabout of the leakage on water mains in the Water Loss Management Unit; and learning ways to handle public enquiries on water quality and supply in the Customer Services Section. She was also assigned to the Distribution Section to assist in handling emergency water main burst cases. According to Koey, the apprentice training scheme is an eye-opener for her. Currently stationing in the Customer Services Section in Hong Kong and Islands Region, she is mainly responsible for replacing and conducting accuracy tests on aged meters, as well as handling customer enquiries on water quality and supply. She is pleased that the apprentice training has equipped her the skills that she can apply in her job.
Strong as men through physical training
As the work of artisans is physically demanding, it is a position that has been perceived as one dominated by males. Koey shares with us that it is indeed not easy for females, the physically weaker gender, to pick up a large pipe wrench weighing two to three pounds to install and remove meters, which she also finds difficult at times. To cope with the work, she persists in working out every week and has hit the gym four times a week at her peak to improve body strength. Now she can lift heavy items at ease. She also recalls when she was a newbie, what feared her most was working in some dark, dirty and wet courtyards, but she has got used to it now, which she says with a grin on her face.
Tireless efforts of outstanding apprentices
Koey believes that, apart from physical fitness, it is very important for artisans to be meticulous and observant. For instance, when inspecting pipes, one must observe carefully for any damaged parts. Whenever she comes across a special case or cases involving various rusting pipes, she will pay extra attention for future reference. In fact, many procedures that require physical strength can now be done with machines. For example, the valves of large-diameter pipes are now controlled electrically by a switch. Therefore, female workers are not put at an obvious disadvantage. However, to become an outstanding apprentice, one has to work extra hard to constantly upgrade oneself, and acquire more knowledge about waterworks through further studies and daily exposure at work, says Koey.
Koey is now a student of the Higher Diploma in Civil Engineering (Part-time) Programme offered by the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education. She has set a target for advancement, hoping to apply for and become a Consumer Services Inspector in two to three years’ time to continue to serve the public. I am very pleased to see the great efforts devoted by the WSD to nurturing apprentices for injection of new blood into the department. I believe that our young people, after completing the apprenticeship, will have a bright and promising future ahead of them as long as they continue to work hard, accumulate experience and upgrade themselves persistently.
22 September, 2019Back