6 Ways to Upskill Your Domestic Helper

Developing your domestic helper’s skills can be tough and time-consuming, but essential in many cases. Oftentimes, the pre-training first-timers receive before coming to Hong Kong is quite basic, insufficient, and at times even inadequate, preventing them from being able to care for a household properly.

Sometimes, a helper’s skill set just doesn’t meet her employer’s standards and a proper training to bring her up to speed is required. Training your helper enables her to develop professionally and perform better on the job as well as grow further on a personal level. A genuine willingness to learn and a positive attitude on both sides is key if both of you are to reap the benefits of training.


#1 Teach her your basics

Start her training by giving her a cursory introduction to your household on her first few days with you. Briefing her about your needs and expectations and your house rules is necessary – and this, regardless of her background as those are unique to your household and define its dynamics.

Take time to show her how to use the various appliances and kitchen equipment – she might not be used to operating some of them, especially if she is a first-timer – and explain your cleaning style, how you like certain areas to be cleaned, etc. Only you can let her know how you like things to be done – she cannot second-guess your preferences.

Teach your helper everything there is to know about your household to help her go by around your house especially when you are not around.  You might want to invite your helper to perform an initial thorough cleaning to do a recon of the house by taking out, cleaning, re-folding, and re-storing items where they belong.

#2 Take over her training

Show her the drill

Upskill your domestic helper by showing her how you expect her to perform certain duties so she can develop a specific new skill.

  • Based on your needs, take time to:
    • Teach her how to cook certain of your favourite meals, healthy dishes or a particular type of cuisine g. Western, Indian, Arabic cuisine…;
    • Teach her how to cook to meet some of your dietary requirements;
    • Describe how to give certain medications to your child or an elder parent;
    • Explain how you expect her to deal with specific medical issues if any.
  • Adopting the following training process can yield positive results and increase the chances of your helper acquiring a new skill or performing a duty more efficiently:
  1. Start by demonstrating;
  2. Answer any questions she might have;
  3. Give her the opportunity to try out for herself – learning by doing is a fantastic way to learn more quickly;
  4. Observe her do;
  5. Give her feedback – if necessary, reminder her the dos and don’ts;
  6. Repeat the process several times until the learning is fully integrated.
  • Encourage her to be an active learner – she should be at the core of the learning process; after all, she is the one learning – by creating a space where she feels comfortable enough to ask questions.
  • Invite her to take notes in her mother tongue if necessary.


Test her with real-life scenarios

  • Drawing on real-life examples can make the learning process much easier as practical exercises are an effective way to assimilate new learnings.
  • Take time to reflect on potential scenarios (g. your child accidentally ingests poison, child-proofing the house to prepare for your baby’s arrival, coming up with ideas to deal with a bored or agitated child, the process to sterilize a baby’s bottle, etc.) and run through scenario-based drills for your helper to solve.
  • Listen carefully to her thought-process, give feedback, explain what she got wrong and answer any questions she might have. When possible, demonstrate!


#3 Ask a fellow helper for some help

Sometimes, learning from peers is just easier. Your domestic helper might feel more comfortable asking questions or getting support from another helper who has gone through a similar experience. So, you might want to consider asking an experienced helper – who might be working for a friend or a relative – if she would be willing to give a hand with your helper’s training. Ideally, seek assistance from someone who speaks her native tongue.

#4 Sign her up for a course

  • There are plenty of courses and trainings available in Hong Kong, provided by a multitude of external third-party organizations, and covering a variety of areas such as household-management, language, cooking, CPR, childcare, wine tasting, and much more.
  • Such types of training can be valuable for helpers who are lacking certain skills or who need support in fine-tuning some of their skills. You might even want to consider signing your helper up for training when a new need arises in your household.
  • Resorting to an external party is particularly useful when you cannot upskill your helper yourself either because you cannot afford to dedicate much time to her training or when you do not have the proper skills to.
  • As there are multiple options for training available out there, choosing carefully is essential – before signing your helper up for any given course, ensure that it actually meets your needs. You might want to research the various options and get feedback from others who have tried them out before.


#5 Turn to the HelperChoice Academy

  • Through its newly-launched Academy, HelperChoice gives employers the opportunity to upskill their helper as new needs arise. The Academy’s offer makes it possible for your helper to enjoy a la carte training. Opting for an a la carte subscription allows you more to be more flexible as there is no need for you to stick to one particular course anymore – you and your helper have the possibility to choose different classes for your helper at any time should her needs or preferences change.
  • HelperChoice’s 12-month subscription plan is and guarantees an unlimited access to a series of workshops in the Academy’s dedicated training centre located on Hong Kong Island.
  • The curriculum covers a wide range of areas such as cooking, baking, kitchen management, financial management, English or Cantonese language, sewing, and much more.


#6 Make the most of online tools

  • The Internet abounds in useful resources and tools which can provide your domestic helper with learning opportunities on a variety of topics and support her in developing new skills. However, given the number of resources available, it is best to filter through the various resources before recommending any to your helper.
  • Videos are a great and cost-effective way for your helper to learn without any supervision – that’s particularly a good alternative if you do not have much time to dedicate to her training. You could allocate some time in her daily schedule for her to watch videos on the family computer for instance.
  • Several online education platforms offer online free courses and training on a variety of topics. For instance, Uplifters provides a 6-week free online programme targeted at foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong to develop your helper’s personal and communication skills and manage money efficiently.


Last but not least

  • Be patient and supportive – on top of adjusting to a new work environment, your helper might still be adjusting to a whole new way of living and some cultural and barriers can prevent her from learning as fast as you would like her to.
  • Adopt a trial-and-error approach – if an approach does not work, adapt.
  • Acknowledge her progress and reward her accordingly to help her consolidate new learnings and keep her motivated do better.