Council's expansion creates opportunities

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 February, 2008, 12:00am

The Vocational Training Council (VTC), Hong Kong's biggest vocational education and training institution, celebrated its silver anniversary last year.

It has been the parent of subsidiary organisations such as the nine campuses of the Institute of Vocational Education (IVE), the Hospitality Industry Training and Development Centre (HITDC) and the Maritime Services Training Institute.

Now it has another exciting reason to celebrate: it will open the campus of the Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI), the SAR's version of the Rhode Island School of Design, in the United States, next year.

The institute is looking for a vice-principal.

'This candidate, who must have at least 10 years of teaching and industry experience, must have a strong vision of where Hong Kong's design potential can thrive and lead the institution in that direction,' head of human resources division Gladys Yam Ying-sim said.

Hong Kong has shifted from a production-focused city into a service-focused one, so one way to produce in Hong Kong is through design. A good avenue to expand designers' horizons and perspectives is by bringing in top instructors from Hong Kong and overseas.

The campus in Tiu Keng Leng, near Tseung Kwan O, is being built based on the winning entry of an international architectural design competition and will be completed for the 2009-2010 academic year. Four major departments - communication design and digital media, interior and product design, fashion and image design, and foundation design studies - will be housed there.

The wide variety of design courses, which are carried out at various IVE campuses, will be consolidated under one roof. This initiative has been strongly supported by government, industries, trade associations and secondary schools.

Ms Yam said other teaching professionals would be needed. 'We need professionals to teach cultural studies and the design of jewellery, toys, watches, optical accessories and lighting. Candidates should have a recognised degree in their field and at least three years of industry and teaching experience. They should also have a portfolio to present to us,' she said.

Also important is a good industry network for the benefit of students. A vocational school must offer courses that have components of practical experience built-in. The VTC aims to have practical components built in to its programmes by 2012. Industry experts will also be brought in as visiting lecturers.

The requirements for the design instructors also apply to those needed at the HITDC. There is an active exchange of experienced professionals - especially those with five to eight years of experience - between the academic and commercial sector.

Keeping well-qualified professionals has been challenging. 'Because of the good economy the tourism industry demands many personnel. The enrolment into hospitality and culinary programmes is high and we are in serious need of instructors,' Ms Yam said.

The booming tourism industry means a need for native English teachers (NETs). Candidates must have three years of teaching experience and hold a degree in English language or a teaching-related qualification. Aside from teaching, they will help organise activities for students and staff.

'We now have two NETs on each campus and want to increase that to three to give students more exposure and opportunities to immerse themselves in an English-speaking environment and learn from other cultures,' she said. 'For the year 2007-2008 we hired more than 10 NETs from Canada, the United States and Australia.'

Because of the nature of VTC programmes the instructors can teach and stay in close touch with relevant industries and the institution's network. An instructor may start as a lecturer, and progress to a senior and then principal lecturer.

VTC instructors can transfer to other departments such as the training and development centre. Instructors can also take part in the many initiatives the VTC starts.

Instructors must enjoy interacting with students, be able to handle different student personalities and work well with colleagues. The VTC provides courses for teachers and the remuneration package is competitive.

Learning curve

- The Vocational Training Council is to open the new campus of Hong Kong Design Institute in 2009

- The VTC is looking for a vice-principal for the HKDI who has a strong vision

- Native English teachers, design and hospitality instructors are also needed

- The VTC is also recruiting from abroad to enrich design output by increasing cultural diversity

- Instructors must bring in passion, teaching and industry experience, and a good industry network