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  • Chairman’s View

    Chairman Jimmy Kwok

    Importance of Vocational Education and Training

    Chairman Prof Daniel M Cheng

        In light of the robust development of global economies and innovation and technology (I&T), the job market is constantly raising the bar for human resources requirements. The Federation of Hong Kong Industries has long been promoting I&T, design, brand building, startup entrepreneurship, and, with heavy emphasis on re-industrialisation in recent years, which indicates that professionals with cross-subjects, high-tech and diversified background are in strong demand. As the traditional and mainstream academic education and knowledge may not fully satisfy the society and economic development’s appetite, it is imperative for the Government to formulate forward-looking educational policies, couple with modernised and advanced facilities, in order to boost the popularity and credibility of vocational and professional education and training (VPET).

        The Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre released a study titled Realising Your Dreams through Vocational Education and Training in early September which found that up to 70 per cent of interviewed students and parents had never heard of VPET. This is essentially the crux of Hong Kong’s overly narrowed economic base. While most of the youngsters nowadays prefer the relatively ‘mainstream’ professions in the finance, trading and services sectors, those related to a skill or craftsmanship are generally viewed as a secondary choice. But as the number of university graduates surges which in turn instigates credentials inflation, the job market may not have sufficient openings to accommodate all these qualified candidates. As they go on to reluctantly take up posts that are deemed inferior, this may cause a mismatch in human resources and fuel their displeasure on the society. 

        Promoting VPET is indeed one of the key focuses of the SAR Government. The last administration announced in 2017 Policy Address that a Cha Kwo Ling site will be allocated to the Vocational Training Council (VTC) for the development of a new campus; during the VPET International Conference held in June, the then Chief Executive CY Leung also stressed that vocational training should not be viewed as a secondary choice behind traditional education, but a competitive option to widen one’s educational path.

        The VTC is the largest and most reputable VPET provider in Hong Kong which issues internationally recognised credentials to some 250,000 students annually through a range of pre-employment and in-service programmes. To cope with the rapid I&T advancement globally, VTC in recent years emphasises on the introduction of cross-subjects platforms and I&T-instilled education system, to answer the call for various type of talents needed in the future. However, it is reported that nearby residents understandably object to the establishment of new campus due to the overall landscape and foreseeable pressure adding on to the traffic. Subsequently, VTC took the public’s views into consideration and amended its proposal by only erecting two buildings instead of three, and adding one hectare of public open space into its blueprint.

        For such a massive undertaking, it will easily take years of development from the planning stage to completion. Under the direction of investing in education and enhancing the overall competitiveness of Hong Kong’s human resources, I hope that different stakeholders can reasonably discuss and compromise so that the construction of new campus may progress smoothly. Meanwhile, VTC should also streamline and consolidate its some thirty campuses and facilities in order to provide students with better learning environment and proper subjects, and further its contribution in promoting VPET which is essential for Hong Kong to sustain its economic competitiveness.  

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