THE Hong Kong Prevocational Schools Council wants to combine overlapping technical and commercial subjects to put more resources into the development of student counselling, career guidance and staff development. Council chairman Ronald Lau Yiu-fai revealed the proposal as part of curriculum reforms which aim to better utilise resources and improve education. Under the proposal, which is high on the council's agenda for this year, technical and commercial subjects that overlap would be combined to release resources. An example would be to combine metalwork, metal fabrication and light metal. The council suggested a core subject of metalwork be designed with extended ones based on the core to avoid overlapping. 'The lessons that become available after the merger can then be used at the discretion of the school,' he said. School authorities are currently given autonomy over the use of five per cent of the lessons, as some use them as assembly time. How the released lessons are utilised depends on individual schools. Mr Lau said the council had plans to put greater emphasis on student counselling, career guidance and staff development. A seminar entitled 'An Update in Youth Counselling' was held by the council in December where Chinese University Department of Educational Psychology head Lam Man-ping outlined to prevocational schools teaching staff the essence of student counselling. 'Expert advice on student counselling is vital in helping us to provide a positive and happy learning environment for our students,' Mr Lau said. He added that summer work placement would be part of the career preparation for prevocational students. 'They will be placed in department stores to gain first-hand experience in retailing before joining the workforce.' As the number of prevocational students who opted for higher education increased, the council was prepared to strengthen the information flow and exchange system among schools to help students make their decision, Mr Lau said. The council also considered shifting the emphasis on certain subjects in a bid to suit market demands due to changes in society. 'The knowledge of word-processing has grown to be more important than typewriting, and we put more emphasis on the former to give students an edge,' he said. The Subject Committee under the Curriculum Development Institute is considering the proposal but has not reached a decision. The council plans to meet Director of Education Lam Woon-kwong to discuss the proposal next month.