HKTDC Education and Careers Expo 2014
Opening Ceremony on 13 February 2014
Opening remarks by the Secretary for Education
Mr Lam (Mr Fred Lam, Executive Director of the HKTDC), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning! It is my great pleasure to join you all at the opening of this year's Education and Careers Expo organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC). And a warm welcome to our friends, who have travelled from different parts of the world to be with us today.
In his autobiography – Long Walk to Freedom, the late South African president Nelson Mandela wrote “Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mine worker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become the president of a great nation.”
From Mandela’s word of wisdom, we can see how education could provide our next generation with multiple pathways to succeed.
This annual event, which has been held for the 24th time, has no doubt established itself as a premier event in equipping our students and job seekers alike with comprehensive and latest information on further studies, training and career openings under one roof.
Few of you would disagree that the future prosperity of any city will depend on the talents, skills and creativity of its people. Our challenge – and opportunity – is to build up the best trained workforce that can rise to intense competition from around the world. For this, it is imperative that we do our utmost to prepare our younger generation. At the same time, we believe in the talents in each and every youngster, and that everyone should have the opportunity to develop such talents and grasp whatever chances life has in store for them.
This is precisely the theme of this year’s Policy Address –"Support the Needy, Let Youth Flourish, Unleash Hong Kong's Potential".
As the policy chief on education, I would like to update you on some education-related initiatives announced in the Policy Address last month which are relevant to our youngsters.
First of all, we are committed to providing quality, flexible and diversified study pathways with multiple entry and exit points for secondary school leavers. It was announced in the Policy Address that the Government will provide students with more opportunities for higher education in the following five ways –
(a) First, increase the intake of senior-year undergraduate places in University Grants Committee-funded institutions by 1 000 so that more meritorious sub-degree graduates will be able to articulate to subsidised degree programmes each year;
(b) Second, study the feasibility of a new scheme to subsidise up to 1 000 students per cohort to pursue self-financing undergraduate programmes in selected disciplines to meet Hong Kong’s manpower needs;
(c) Third, introduce a Mainland University Study Subsidy Scheme so that students in need pursuing studies under the scheme for the Admission of Hong Kong Students to Mainland Higher Education Institutions may receive a means-tested grant of up to $15,000 per year during their studies;
(d) Fourth, implement a new scholarship scheme to support up to 100 outstanding local students each cohort to pursue studies in renowned universities outside Hong Kong, with a view to nurturing a diversified pool of top talent to spur Hong Kong’s development; and
(e) Lastly, set up a $100 million scholarship fund under which tertiary institutions will be encouraged to admit about 20 local students a year who excel in sport, arts and community service.
Besides, the Government attaches great importance to vocational education and training which provide valuable credentials and articulation opportunities. As a matter of fact, mainstream education is not a straightjacket that fits all young people as everyone has his or her own interests and abilities. The Government will implement measures to help young people with life planning and strengthen vocational education in a number of ways, including (i) strengthening career guidance service and life planning education in secondary schools; (ii) launching a pilot training and support scheme to attract and retain talent for industries with a keen demand for labour by integrating structured apprenticeship training programmes with clear career progression pathways; (iii) allocating recurrent funding to the Vocational Training Council to provide industrial attachment opportunities for all students of Higher Diploma programmes and students of some Diploma in Vocational Education programmes; and (iv) setting up a $1 billion endowment fund to provide long-term support for the sustainable development of the Qualifications Framework.
Ladies and gentlemen, to prepare our young people to meet the challenges and opportunities in a knowledge-based economy, we cannot work alone in grooming the talents for the future of Hong Kong. All stakeholders, especially the businesses and enterprises, have an indispensible role to play by providing training and internship opportunities for our young people to supplement their studies and have a first-hand experience of the various professions. I therefore appeal to you for support in this regard.
In closing, I wish the Education and Careers Expo every success and you all a fruitful event. And as we have stepped into the Year of Horse not long ago, I would also like to wish you all good health and prosperity in the new year. For those of you coming from abroad, I wish you an enjoyable stay in Hong Kong especially during this festive season and hope you will make the most out of your time in Asia's world city. Thank you.