Sunday, 14 June 2015

Vocational skills key to student development

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam

Today, some people may still be biased towards conventional academic pursuits and against vocational education. Some may even equate conventional academic studies with the word "knowledge."


But, of course, knowledge is by no means confined to theories and principles. It also embraces technical education and skills gained through specialised training. And if an economy is to grow, in a sustainable and balanced way, we must highlight the many and varied contributions of vocational education and training. We must do so by nurturing future achievers like all of you here this morning. 


Indeed, professionals who possess practical skills are in great demand by corporations, helping them stay a step ahead of their competitors. But beyond the purely economic activities and motive, I believe that youth must be given full opportunity to develop their potential.


Today, we can be thankful that vocational education is no longer repetitive training of workers in a sub-optimal environment. Just take a look at this award-winning campus, quality facilities and the team of dedicated staff. And talking about campuses, I should just thank Bruce (Director and CEO of Institute of Technical Education, Mr Bruce Poh) for taking me round the ITE campus during my official trip to Singapore two years ago. It was really very impressive.


Whole-person development

Vocational education and training nowadays does not only equip students with necessary skills and knowledge. It puts equal emphasis on the whole-person development of students, exposing them to a wide spectrum of learning experiences. This inspired international seminar is a very good example of that.


Through education, employment and whole-person development, a culture of multi-faceted excellence is fostered. We provide young people with diversified learning, training and development opportunities that match their abilities, aspirations and education levels. Vocational education and training is, therefore, an integral part of the education system. It has the full support of the Hong Kong SAR Government, as a series of recent initiatives makes clear.


As mentioned by our Chief Executive in his 2014 Policy Address, the Government will implement measures to help young people with life planning and to strengthen vocational education. Among various measures, the Pilot Training and Support Scheme was launched with government and industry support. It was designed to integrate apprenticeship training with clear progress pathways. We have also begun to allocate recurrent funding to the VTC. This provides industrial attachment opportunities for some 9,000 students a year.


In addition, the Government has set up the Task Force on Promotion of Vocational Education. It will formulate the necessary strategies and concrete measures to help us promote vocational education in the community as a valued choice for young people. The Task Force report will be published very soon, and I am confident that it will mark a new beginning in Hong Kong's vocational education and training.


Igniting innovation

This year, the main theme of the seminar is "Social Innovation". We need innovative ways to keep this city growing as a successful community and to bring opportunities to those in need. 


In this regard, the Government has launched the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund in 2013 to facilitate cross-sector collaboration and sharing of knowledge and experience to nurture social innovation and entrepreneurship for poverty alleviation. And to boost the city's competitiveness and innovation, the Government planned to set up the Innovation & Technology Bureau and we are now seeking the Legislative Council's funding approval for that.


We are also carrying out feasibility study to turn an area called Kowloon East, not too far away from Tseung Kwan O here, into a sustainable CBD, in line with the vision of "Smart City", by making use of smart data and technology, creating a low-carbon green community, promoting green building, etc, with a view to making the area a better place for people.


All these initiatives require innovative minds to support their development, and I am sure today's seminar will help spark new ideas and ignite innovations. You can be innovators or young entrepreneurs to make our society a better place too. 


Chief Secretary Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the opening ceremony of the VTC-ITE International Student Seminar 2015.

Otmane El Rhazi
Department of Commerce
Economic Development
Text/Mobile, +44 7414 782 320

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