LOCAL continuing education should focus its long-term planning on areas such as construction management and specialist business programmes if it is to meet the increasing demands of the community, according to a top continuing and professional educationalist. Professor Lee Ngok, the outgoing director of the University of Hong Kong's School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPACE), said there were several professional training areas which should be strengthened. 'More resources are needed to boost training in construction management, specialised business management [such as banking and finance], social welfare, communication, world-class senior executive programmes, and hospital-related courses [such as food nutrition].' He said these courses should encourage collaboration with overseas education institutes, such as inviting 'business gurus' to deliver talks in Hong Kong. 'Even though the cost may be astronomical, the market for these programmes is not restricted to Hong Kong only. As 1997 approaches, we have to consider the needs of the vast market in the mainland,' Professor Lee stressed. After heading SPACE for eight years, the professor will leave the territory at the end of this month to take up his pro-vice-chancellor post at the University of Southern Queensland. His two children are studying in Perth. The director, who obtained Australian citizenship seven years ago, said the move was 'purely related to his career' and 'had nothing to do with the 1997 handover'. 'I have to move on as an academic and take up the pro-vice-chancellor position as it is the right move for me at the moment,' Professor Lee said. He pointed out that his appointment at the Australian university was part of the 'internationalisation' drive which would mean enhancing links with European and African institutes. Under his eight-year leadership, SPACE - formerly known as the Department of Extra-mural Studies - has expanded from 1,190 courses with 31,621 students in 1987 to the present 1,500 courses with 55,000 students. Professor Lee, who read for his history doctorate degree at the University of London in 1968, said the University of Hong Kong had not started interviewing candidates for the directorship, but denied that it intended to leave the post empty for the year. 'There will be an acting director to do the duties and by the end of this year they will find a suitable successor, who will probably start next year.' He said the person appointed to the post would need to have good managerial skill as well as a high academic status, as they would have to continuously develop and upgrade the courses and assure that quality was maintained. Professor Lee said he would keep his position as a committee member of the Hong Kong Institute of Education and Lee Po Chun United World College in Sha Tin. 'I will continue to conduct research in Asia-Pacific security in the 21st century and hopefully will publish a book on it later on.'