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(Hong Kong – 18 September 2008) Ocean Park Hong Kong is raising its social initiatives to a new level with the launch of a pilot “Ocean Park Theme Park F&B Services Trainee Programme,” to provide on-the-job training with the Park’s Food & Beverage Operations Department. There are 25 posts available to young people aged between 15 and 24 years old, with aspirations to pursue a career in the field. Each successful candidate will become a “F&B Operations Trainee” and receive over $6,000 per month, which includes related Ocean Park staff benefits, during the nine-month training period. Where opportunities exist, Ocean Park may formally offer further employment to trainees with exemplary achievements.

The inspiration for this pilot scheme started with Ocean Park and Operation Breakthrough, a local charity organisation run by five serving officers and one retired officer of the Hong Kong Police, and committed to making positive influence on young people through interaction and job placements.

The original scheme has now developed into a joint initiative among Ocean Park, Labour Department’s Youth Work Experience and Training Scheme (YWETS,) the Hospitality Industry Training and Development Centre (HITDC) of the VTC, and the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG.) Ocean Park will be the employer of the trainees, while all partners will play a role in the management of the recruitment and in the running of the Programme. (For Details, please refer to the Fact Sheet.)

Representatives from the above organisations attended a ceremony at Ocean Park to kick off the Programme. These included Mr Raymond Ho, Programme Director of YWETS and Youth Pre-employment Training Programme, Labour Department, Mr Lawrence Wong Ve Chung, Director of HITDC, Ms. Amy Fung, Deputy Executive Director of HKFYG, and Mr. Robbie McRobbie, Director of Operation Breakthrough.

The Programme involves both classroom, practical, and on-the-job training within Ocean Park and at HITDC’s training centre in Pokfulam.

YWETS will provide a monthly training subsidy of $2,000 to Ocean Park in respect of each trainee employed during the training period as recognition for the Park’s training efforts and support.

Ocean Park chairman, Dr Allan Zeman, said, ”Ocean Park is always mindful of fulfilling our corporate responsibility. So far, we have in place very strong programmes to enable people from all walks of life in Hong Kong to enjoy our Park on free or concessionary admission, and to connect with nature. The ‘Ocean Park Theme Park F&B Services Trainee Programme’ offers vocational training within a world class theme park setting that you can find no where else in Hong Kong. Through this Programme, we hope to expand the scope of our social involvement, by developing a pool of new talents to support Hong Kong’s burgeoning service industry, as well as to empower these young people through vocational skills and employment opportunities.”

Those interested should direct their applications and enquiries to Ocean Park’s Human Resources Department. Selected candidates will need to attend a five-day induction course run by HKFYG, after which, all will be expected to start work in mid-October.

During the nine months, the trainees will attach to appointed Ocean Park mentors from the Food & Beverage Operations Department for on-the-job training four days a week, and attend classes at the HITDC for two days in a week. Classroom and practical training at HITDC’s Pokfulam Centre will cover all the essentials of hospitality service, such as F&B operations management, hygiene and safety, banqueting, bartending, and menu knowledge.

At the end of the training period, all trainees will undergo evaluation administered by the HITDC.

Mr Robbie McRobbie, Director of Operation Breakthrough, said, “All young people in our society deserve the chance to build a good future for themselves, and youths from disadvantaged backgrounds may need more help to get empowered. That is why we were so excited when Ocean Park came to us in 2006 with an opportunity for vocational training. We are happy to see this initiative develop with new partners, and we will continue to support Ocean Park in the Programme.”

Mr Raymond Ho, Programme Director of the Youth Work Experience and Training Scheme and Youth Pre-employment Training Programme, Labour Department, said, “YWETS was launched by the Labour Department in 2002 to enhance the employability of young people aged between 15 to 24 years old, who have not completed any degree programmes, through on-the-job training. The success of this scheme relies very much on the support from employers that are willing to provide training posts. We are very happy to include Ocean Park as a partnering employer offering training posts to develop both vocational skills for theme park hospitality and personal credentials for our youths.”

Dr Zeman said, “The younger generation holds the key to our future, and Ocean Park is pleased to be able to use our unique theme park experiences to nurture tomorrow’s leaders today. Here, I want to thank our partners, the Labour Department, HITDC, and HKFYG, as well as Operation Breakthrough for being with us from the start, for all their passion and commitment to our latest initiative. We look forward to a long term partnership, a successful Programme, and more importantly, to developing self-confident, empowered young people.”

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About Ocean Park
Ocean Park is Hong Kong’s unique homegrown theme park with a heritage of delivering family fun and fond memories. Since its opening in January 1977 as a non-profit organisation, Ocean Park has developed itself to be a world-class attraction connecting people with nature, and recognised for its animal husbandry, research and relationship with the community. Over 90 million people have visited Hong Kong's premier park since its inception and Ocean Park has remained committed to offering adults and children experiences that blend entertainment with education and conservation. Part of the proceeds from the Ocean Park admission tickets and some retail items will go to Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong to support its wildlife conservation projects.