Reducing Vulnerability Through Effective Skills Training
Fair Employment Foundation is ending the forced labour of migrant workers by setting a new standard for pre-migration training
Yes, I fulfill all of the eligibility criteria.
Initiative's representative name
Initiative's representative date of birth
8th December 1988
Initiative’s representative gender
Which eligible market are you based in?
Where are you making a difference?
Hong Kong, Greater China
Website or social media url(s)
When was your organisation founded?
Financial skills and capability
Reskilling and upskilling the workforce
Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)
Yearly Budget: How much capital do you need to accomplish your proposed project?
1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed
There are 11.5 million migrant domestic workers in the world who send billions of vital dollars to their families back home. I became aware of the forced labour of migrant workers during an internship in Hong Kong. I saw that the migrant recruitment industry leaves workers debt bonded to abusive employers and it fails good employers too, as agencies are incentivised to place a worker in a situation that will fail, rather than somewhere they will succeed. This will only worsen as our aging population grows. I knew that there was a better way to do this, so I finished my final year at BYU-Hawaii, and developed a business plan for Fair Employment Foundation - an ethical solution that would set a new standard for the broken recruitment market.
2. The problem: What problem surrounding employability or financial capability are you helping to solve?
The current recruitment industry is not preparing workers for their lives or jobs abroad and this puts a strain on the working relationship. Very little value is given to the training which is typically irrelevant, outdated and poorly executed. For first-time domestic workers, early termination rates average between 35-40% - this system encourages a churn of hiring and firing workers which leads them deeper into situations of debt bondage
3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
We are approaching this from both sides: workers and employers. In 2016 we set up Fair Training Center (FTC) with the aim to set a new standard for migrant training. In 2015 we set up Fair Hiring Pledge (FHP), which was set to make employers part of the solution and empower them with the knowledge of ethical hiring.
At FTC, we provide quality training, dubbed by the UN’s ILO as “gold standard”, which gives workers the skills to succeed in their jobs. Our training has proved to reduce termination rates from the average 35-40% to just 10%. Our goal is to work with governments to make our training the market standard across Asia.
With FHP, we work with multinational companies in Hong Kong to provide training for employers on ethical hiring and management skills. Often times, employers are unaware that they are facilitating this debt bondage – we want to give them the knowledge of how to avoid these pitfalls and demand better, more ethical services from agencies. Employers can have a huge impact on the market through customer demand.
4. How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solving the problem?
There are no other training centers that approach training in this way. We consider FTC as our innovation hub; first we have started with Hong Kong Domestic Worker training and we are starting to develop new curricula which will lead to new industries and geographies for future migrants. To build a quality curriculum, we conducted focus group discussions with workers, employers and other stakeholders to understand the needs and challenges of the job to build up an idea of knowledge gaps. We saw that soft skills were far more vital than those of bed making, cleaning etc. Skills such as communication, confidence, problem-solving were needed for all jobs whilst hard skills were considered to differ from household to household.
5. Employability: how is your organization or project teaching people to develop the skills that they need to survive in the future job market?
The training center is set up to replicate the home of an employer and the realities of the job. Training days are long. Trainees start early in the morning and finish at night, taking part in different workshops throughout the day. Domestic workers can typically work 12 hour days, if not longer. In order to prepare workers for this, we need to make the training as much like the real job as possible.
Our modules are varied, along with the hard skills of cooking, cleaning, financial literacy and language, we also mix in workshops on professionalism, communication, decision-making and organisation. An important part of our training is also helping them to understand their Rights, safety and Anti-Trafficking laws. Workers are vulnerable to exploitation throughout their migration journey and we want to empower them and feel supported if ever they get into a bad situation.
5a. Please describe which future-oriented skills your organization is focused on fostering and how you have measured / plan to measure progress
Professionalism – we are professionalising domestic work. We teach our trainees the 4 A’s: Appearance, Attitude, Ability, Action
Difficult scenarios – testing the ability of workers to act under pressure
Family communication – coping with homesickness and parenting from abroad
Financial Literacy – Setting financial goals, creating a budget, how to avoid getting financially abused, managing employers’ money
We measure progress by number of trainees (signifying worker interest), termination rates (showing our impact) and stakeholder engagement (showing our wider influence over the market)
7. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?
Our goal is to partner with ethical agencies across the world to bring our training to new geographies and industries, but currently there are no other Training Centers that approach training the way we do. We have worked with an anti-trafficking organisation, Voice of the Free, in the Philippines to train their staff on our curriculum and who will roll it out with their beneficiaries. We plan to do more Train-the-Trainer sessions this year.
8. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
Our initial Theory of Change was to develop the best training curriculum, become the biggest center, which will lead us to wider influence over the market and will eventually lead to overall impact. Recent interest from government and other stakeholders has fast-tracked us to the influence stage before becoming the biggest. Over the past 3 years, FTC has trained 580 prospective migrants and our training has reduced early termination rates from 35-40% to 10%. Our trainees are an example of how important quality training is in order for workers to stay in their jobs.
This early termination rate is important data for the Philippines government and we have gained their interest as they are looking to incorporate our curriculum to the nationwide training. We are still in the early stages of these discussions but if seen through, could be our most influential work done thus far.
9. Financial Sustainability Plan. Can you tell us about you plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?
All of our solutions are set up to eventually become self-sustaining. Fair Training Center is taking this goal on a more long-term basis with the focus being on influencing local government bodies to change current training curriculum and practices which will put workers in a better position when migrating. Currently our training is free for workers and we will be starting to introduce low fees for training, potentially looking towards an employer-pays model.
We also have a new strategy which will look to generate some profit which will go back to support our other non-profit entities. This is how we will see the future of our sustainability.
The team at FTC is made up of our Executive Director and a team of six full time trainers, some of which have previous experience as a domestic worker. Our Executive Director has over a decade of experience scaling non-profit programmes nationwide. As we develop more curricula, we expect demand to increase and the team to grow and take on more responsibility.
Our Board of Directors is made up of a group of leaders with backgrounds in human rights law, NGOs, accounting and banking.
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