Vocational training is key to curbing youth unemployment in city

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 August, 2015, 3:52pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 August, 2015, 3:52pm

I refer to Alex Lo's column ("A skilled youth is vital for our future", August 5).

He talked about the downward mobility young people are experiencing with a survey showing Hong Kong "is the third most difficult place in the world to find skilled employees". He said the city's economy faced "a serious mismatch of skills in the supply and demand of young local talent. These are serious problems that our government, politicians and political parties, regardless of their ideologies, must work together to address".

Lo has made some important observations. The Task Force on Promotion of Vocational Education has handed a report to the government suggesting that it should promote vocational education and also allocate more funds to expand this kind of education and training in Hong Kong.

Having the right vocational education and training system will solve most of the problems now faced by our young people.

Germany has the best vocational training system in the world. This is one of the reasons that its economy is recession proof, and its products are highly desired in the world. Singapore is now going full steam ahead with vocational training. China has recently identified that vocational education can solve its skill mismatch problems.

Hong Kong's education system is geared for one aim only: get into university. It has little consideration of those students who are not academically oriented. Our society has this stigma: if you cannot get into university then you are not much good. This thinking is definitely wrong and should be changed as quickly as possible. Hong Kong's universities have only space for 20 per cent of our secondary school graduates. The present policy of associate degrees for those who failed to get a university place is definitely not the correct way to go. Vocational education is.

In Germany, nobody will look down on a student who chooses the vocational training route. In fact, these students, after they have finished their courses and obtained their diplomas, would get the same or higher salaries than their university degree counterparts.

It is the lack of emphasis of vocational education and training that causes us to have a high youth unemployment rate.

Our society - government, legislators, trades and industries, schools, parents and students - needs to get together to put vocational education and training on the top list of our priorities.

Alex Woo, Tsim Sha Tsui