Yesterday the Hong Kong Consumer Council issued a report about complaints against employment agencies. (I've included a link to the English version.) They highlight 3 complaints and the report is highly subjective, but nonetheless interesting. The report is subjective because much of the complaints are about poor performance on the part of helpers, but the consumer council NEVER talks to any of the helpers to hear their side of the story. The agencies are blamed for the problems employers have with their employees and this is helpful in that it points out the weakness in the system of deploying helpers.
In one case after waiting months, the helper NEVER came, NEVER did a medical and the agency NEVER submitted the application to Immigration. The employer should receive a full refund (IMHO).
In another case the helper's video shows her speaking Cantonese but when she arrived she could NOT communicate in Cantonese. The lesson: don't trust the videos. I went on one large agency's website and looked at bios. The lady's seem to have good English, but after watching her eyes I could see she was reading. We interview applicants via skype every Tuesday. In one interview the applicant's English pronunciation was excellent, but I noticed her looking down. After I told her to look directly at the camera and talk me, she couldn't answer simple questions. We naturally failed her. Our customers have the chance to interview potential candidates at length and we give them tips on how to get around the answers the ladies have memorized ahead of time. Employers complained to the Consumer Council about under performance. That is highly subjective and the helper should have the chance to share her side of the story. In almost every case, helpers need a month or two to rise up to HK standards.
In the third case the helper deceived both the agency and the employer pretending she wasn't ex-Hong Kong. If the agency didn't ask clearly, check her passport stamps, etc. then they are at fault. The truth is that some applicants are deceitful and you have to be vigilant in your screening. At Arrow we interview and screen new applicants every Tuesday. Most don't pass. We have 3 staff involved and we consult with each other during interviews. We don't leave the screening up to our partner in the Philippines. They assist in checking documents, chops, etc., but we are responsible for choosing the applicants we want to present to our customers.
The system agencies use is broken. You can't rely on info from the training schools, videos, and biodatas provided by partners overseas. When we started Arrow we rejected this system and decided to re-invent the wheel. We established our own training and determined that we would interview every applicant before accepting them. We also set up a system that allows our customer to interview applicants at length before deciding who to hire. We also made customer service and support services a high priority. Our way of doing things is expensive, our staff costs are much higher than most agencies, but it provides our customers with some assurance that we have done our best to screen, train and support the candidates they hire.