Forty talented professionals received awards worth about $800,000 from the Careers Post/Hongkong Telecom Scholarships scheme at a ceremony held last week in Tai Po at the Morning Post Centre, the new headquarters of the South China Morning Post. The scholarships aim to help young, employed professionals to acquire new skills and knowledge needed to realise their career goals. Since its launch in 1992, the scheme has funded the career development of more than 200 professionals. More than $2.6 million worth of awards have been granted so far under this popular scheme, now in its fifth year. The Deputy Chief Executive of the South China Morning Post, Owen Jonathan, said that he hoped the scheme would help young professionals to develop their careers to the full and inspire them to contribute to Hong Kong's success. 'Of course, our newspaper looks forward to recording in its columns your career achievements in the years to come,' Mr Jonathan said. He said that this year, the scheme attracted the highest number of applicants - more than 500. The number represents the biggest response since the scheme's inception. Mr Jonathan thanked the Hongkong Telecom Foundation for its commitment to the scheme, while also acknowledging the support of the 10 educational institutions. Part-time programmes for scholarship winners are made available by Hong Kong Productivity Council; Technical Institutes (Morrison Hill Technical Institute, and also Haking Wong, Sha Tin, Kwai Chung, Lee Wai Lee, Kwun Tong, and Tuen Mun institutes); Chinese University of Hong Kong; City University of Hong Kong; Technical Colleges (Chai Wan and Tsing Yi); Hong Kong Baptist University; Hong Kong Management Association; Hong Kong Polytechnic University, University of Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, acting Secretary for Education and Manpower, was the guest of honour. Mr Cheung said the Government was well aware of the importance of continuing education, vocational training and retraining in the development of Hong Kong's economy. 'In this connection we are conducting a major review of the Vocational Training Council, the main provider of vocational training and retraining in Hong Kong. At the same time, the University Grants Committee is also reviewing the overall development of higher education. 'These two reviews will enable the Government to develop policies and set targets to better meet the changing needs of Hong Kong in the face of internal and external challenges.' He said he hoped more employers would set up scholarship schemes, adding that upgrading the skills of the workforce would pay good dividends in the future. 'I am sure this year's winners will prove my point in the years ahead,' Mr Cheung said. Dr K. H. Cheng, director of Network Development, Hongkong Telecom, said the scholarships aimed to help young professionals to improve their careers by providing them with the funds to pay for extramural evening courses of their choice. He said the winners had demonstrated that Hong Kong's youth and the younger members of the working community were keen to take on the personal challenge and improve their skills. Reminding the winners of Telecom's guiding principle, which is a cornerstone of the company's corporate philosophy, Dr Cheng, exhorted the young scholars to strive to be the best in their chosen fields. 'What can be imagined, can be achieved,' he said. Classified Post Advertising Director Sylvia Wilson, said the scheme reflected a continuing commitment to help develop the skills of talented, motivated individuals. Funding for the scholarships would continue to grow progressively, she said. Mrs Wilson said the most challenging task was selecting the applicants who were most deserving. Making a choice was made more difficult by the large number of applications received this year. Wong Chi-yung, a design engineer at a home appliances manufacturing firm, was awarded a scholarship to study for a distance learning certificate in China trade correspondence. The three-month course is offered by the Hong Kong Management Association. Mr Wong has a degree in mechanical engineering. He said the programme would enable him to improve his knowledge of doing business in China. Every week, he visits his company's manufacturing plant in the mainland. Cheung Yat-wei, will study for a MSc in environmental engineering at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He said he wanted to become a consultant in environmental engineering, but first he needed to earn a higher degree which would allow him to enter this specialised field. Mr Cheung has a degree in mechanical engineering, and has been with his current employer, a manufacturing firm, for a year. Scholarships are funded by The Hongkong Telecom Foundation, which supports the community through sponsorship of worthy educational initiatives - formal education, education for the disabled, sports education, language skills, research, and education about drug abuse. Through programmes, the foundation aims to ensure that Hong Kong will continue to have the technology and skills needed to compete successfully in the world.