SEED Foundation, a Hong Kong-registered charity with the mission to future-proof our youths for a technology-driven world, today announced the successful completion of its pilot Workplace Experience program, where A.S. Watson Group, the world’s largest international health and beauty retailer, participated as an inaugural partner. The pilot program provided 10 students, aged 15 to 16 from three local secondary schools, with a month-long, technology-related, and hands-on work experience at A.S. Watson Group. SEED Foundation intends to expand the program with more participating companies, with the aim of cultivating the students’ interests in, and to help them make informed decisions about, a technology-driven pathway, just as the students are at the stage of making important choices on their future studies and careers.
From 1 to 31 August, 10 students from Ko Lui Secondary School, Kowloon Technical School, and Yan Chai Hospital Wong Wha San Secondary School, underwent a month-long work experience at eLab, Watsons International eCommerce Team and Group Information Technology Department in A.S. Watson Group. Their project assignments at their respective departments required their utilization of data analytics, user interface / user experience (UI/UX), user acceptance testing (UAT), metaverse design thinking, and other skills in demand in the technology fields in the real world. They worked closely with their supervisors and colleagues to understand the objectives of the assigned projects, integrated their existing computer-related knowledge and skills on industry-grade applications in an actual business setting, and contributed to overall project progress with a fresh perspective from the future generation.
All the students are currently enrolled in SEED Foundation’s Cloud Computing Course, where they were equipped with foundational concepts of client/server architectures, computer networking, cloud technology and deployment, as well as basic front end web development. They were subsequently nominated by their school teachers to apply for SEED’s Workplace Experience program. All nominees to the program have participated in a three-day pre-work business etiquette and interview skills workshop, also organized by SEED Foundation, where they have been instilled with professional work attitudes and business communication skills, which are essential for their ability to collaborate and communicate effectively with peers in a business context. After the workshop, one-on-one interviews were held between the students and A.S. Watson Group’s department heads.
Parkson Tseung, Group People Director (Asia) of A.S. Watson Group, said, “A.S. Watson Group is pleased to be the first company to support SEED Foundation, which shares the same vision to improve the future of youth. A.S. Watson Group has recently announced its commitment to provide 200,000 job opportunities for young people globally by 2030, giving young people the skills and experiences to equip them for the fast-changing business landscape and develop their career in retail. To deliver A.S. Watson Group’s integrated O+O (Offline Plus Online) platform strategy, digital transformation is the key business driver, and thus we have been investing in digital-ready young talents. We are excited to see the growth of the students within one month, not just their skills and knowledge but also their personality and attitude. They also gave us valuable inputs and brought tangible results to our business operations in return. From this program, we see the huge potential in our youth if they are given more deep-dive experience at an office setting. We would love to see more and more passionate young talents like them joining A.S. Watson Group in the future.”
Ken Lo, CEO of SEED Foundation, said, “A month-long workplace experience at forward-looking, digital-driven companies, where students can roll up their sleeves and contribute to real-life technology projects, is a rare opportunity for secondary school students in Hong Kong. To fully experience the assimilation with teammates with diverse backgrounds and develop skillsets to contribute towards real-life business-critical projects, both the host companies and the students need to invest in a program that is sufficiently long in duration. We are honored to have A.S. Watson Group to be our inaugural partner for this pilot program, and we wish to express our gratitude towards the A.S. Watson Group colleagues who devoted a month of their time in training and coach our future generation. We are proud of the courage the students have shown as they take their first steps into a real-life corporate environment, as well as their commitment to challenges and spend one month during an already-shortened summer holiday. We are also grateful for the full support from their principals, teachers, and parents, amidst the hectic school schedules during the pandemic, to make this happen.”
At a ceremony on 31 August, the 10 students celebrated their "graduation” with their supervisors, and representatives in A.S. Watson Group, persons-in-charge for this program from SEED Foundation, as well as other guests including their school principals and teachers. Three of them from each of the departments shared their feelings after the experience.
“My main duty at eLab, A.S. Watson Group’s in-house digital development agency, is to understand A.S. Watson Group’s target shoppers’ different persona and compare their actual shopping behaviors and experiences on online platforms against physical stores. I learned that in the digital era, people can choose to go to physical stores, visit a website or a mobile application to shop as they please. To maximize sales opportunities for the various channels, we have to create a seamless shopping experience across different platforms by studying the users’ behaviors. I am thankful for this opportunity to apply my computer skills in practice for a real business context that I can closely relate to.” Leung, a student from Wong Wha San Secondary School, said.
“My team was responsible for exploring an office workspace in the metaverse at the Group Information Technology Department. When I was at school and had to switch between offline and online class, I had not thought of the technology and security measures behind the procedures. The experience of testing different virtual office services allows me to put on a business hat and consider factors such as the installations, costs and most importantly, the policy and rules accompanying the implementation. This workplace experience has redefined what “IT in a company” means to me and I will definitely explore more along this direction as a career.” Chen, a student from Kowloon Technical School, shared.
“As a team member of Watsons International eCommerce Team, our job is to make sure our online shopping platform delivers the best experience to our customers even when they cannot touch the physical products nor ask a human salesperson. When we performed user acceptance tests on the website and mobile application, my team and I had long discussions to brainstorm as many scenarios as possible to make sure our tests are comprehensive. I have enjoyed very much along the progress, and I am now more confident in working as a team to accomplish a common goal.” Yeung, a student from Ko Lui Secondary School, said.
With the success and feedback from the various constituents from this pilot, SEED Foundation will reflect on the results and continue to work with A.S. Watson Group for more youth development initiatives in the future. SEED Foundation is planning to expand the Workplace Experience program, targeting to place between 50-100 secondary school students into month-long experiences for next summer. “We hope the success and learnings from the pilot can encourage other companies in Hong Kong, regardless of size and industry, to consider organizing deep-dive work experience opportunities for our next generation in Hong Kong. The program provides our students an immersive journey to learn and advance their technology knowledge as well as their soft skills, which, in combination, are the future skills required of our next generation in a digital-driven world.” Ken added.
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About SEED Foundation
SEED Foundation, a registered charity organisation in Hong Kong, aims to future-proof our youths in the technology-driven economy by delivering a unique, equal-access ICT education program that builds students’ expert knowledge and use of technology tools, enabling them to capture future opportunities in the digital world, and in the process, provide the talent pipeline for a digital Hong Kong. For more information, please visit www.seedfoundation.hk.