Education has been changing with the times

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 November, 2007, 12:00am

Graduates are given a chance to follow their dreams and benefit the business and industrial community in Hong Kong ; NEW CHAPTER

Despite his busy public service schedules, legislative councillor Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen is helping the VTC to promote vocational education and training. As VTC chairman, Mr Leung, who started his career in the textile and garment industry, said he hoped more young people could develop their career according to their interests.

Mr Leung's enthusiasm for promoting vocational education and training goes back to his time as a student. 'Vocational education and training is very common in foreign countries. While I was in Britain, I took a programme in machine-knitting. It was very useful to me,' he said.

Mr Leung now runs his own knitting factory.

Having witnessed many successful graduates of vocational education and training programmes, Mr Leung is well aware of the importance of vocational education and training in Hong Kong's society. 'Over the past 25 years, VTC has helped many young people identify their career paths. Some of them set up their own businesses, contributing to the economic development of Hong Kong.' Mr Leung cited former VTC student Chelsia Lau Ka-po as an example.

Ms Lau studied design at a VTC institute and is now the chief designer at Ford Motor Company. She is well-known for her brilliant automobile designs, and is proof that people can build a career based on their own interests.

Mr Leung, who was appointed VTC chairman last year, said he was impressed by the dedication of VTC staff. Mr Leung finds management, teachers and supporting staff to be efficient, versatile and all working hard for the interests of the students. Also, thanks to long-term support from the business and industrial sectors, VTC has become Hong Kong's most-established vocational training organisation.

Founded in 1982, VTC is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Mr Leung said he would like to thank the staff for selflessly nurturing talent, while keeping abreast of the changes in society. He said VTC was constantly introducing new elements into its programmes to cope with social and market changes. 'The simple transfer of vocational skills is not enough in today's fast-changing world. Our programmes need to combine independent thinking with practical application.'

Mr Leung is confident VTC graduates will become specialists in their own fields. 'To this end, VTC added 'whole person development' elements this year to all of its courses to strengthen students' confidence. We also offer training in interpersonal communications to help students to cope with changing work environments.'

Environmental protection has been an increasing concern for many industries in recent years. VTC is aware of this trend and is considering the integration of environmental protection concepts into all courses. 'In design courses, for instance, students will be encouraged to design environmental-friendly products and maximise the use of recyclable materials. They are also encouraged not only to think about production cost and aesthetics, but environmental protection as well. In engineering courses, students who have been given design assignments are advised to take issues such as energy conservation more seriously. I believe this 'environmental-awareness' teaching method is unprecedented in the education history of Hong Kong.' Mr Leung expects every VTC student to remain environmentally concerned after graduation, and to take that sense of environmental protection into the organisations they will be working for.

VTC also offers students internship opportunities in relevant trades, and equips them with the knowledge needed to work in the mainland. 'Our mother country is developing in leaps and bounds politically, socially and economically.

'Employment opportunities are abundant on the mainland. I encourage students not just to look at Hong Kong, but to seek opportunities on the mainland,' Mr Leung said.

All these new elements are part of the eight-year strategic plan implemented by the late former chairman Yeung Kai-yin. 'As his successor, I intend to continue implementing the plan, fine-tuning it from time to time in response to social changes. The eight-year plan has in fact been going faster than expected.'

Looking forward, Mr Leung believes VTC programmes will offer students more choices.

Course content is constantly updated to help students utilise their potential and identify their career paths.

'We hope VTC students can continue to have a brilliant future,' Mr Leung said.