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Relax rules on employment agency staff certification

Those who wish to work at employment agencies need to sit an examination to obtain a Certificate of Employment Intermediaries (CEI) before they are allowed to practise.

But it is not easy to pass the exam.

First, the exam is taken online, which disadvantages older staff who are not adept at using the computer.

The questions also seem more like a test of one's linguistic ability rather than of one's capability to do the job.

The words and sentences are used in a tricky way and are, at times, subject to one's interpretation.

For a person who is not fluent in English, the chance of achieving a pass grade is small.

One of my staff members is 55 years old and has worked for me since 1996. He has sat the CEI exam 16 times and has lost all hope of ever passing.

However, he is competent and experienced, and had worked in other employment agencies before the CEI requirement became mandatory.

I urge the authorities to consider exempting those who have industry-related experience, especially older staff, from the CEI requirement.

After all, in an industry where it is a challenge to get the right match in job placements, having staff who are able to achieve a high success rate is the most important thing.

Chia Keng Wah

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 08, 2017, with the headline 'Relax rules on employment agency staff certification'. Print Edition | Subscribe