Hong Kong's universities cannot be expected to single-handedly meet the needs of the new economy, a spokesman for the business community said. 'We believe that it would be naive to expect Hong Kong's tertiary sector to satisfy all the needs of a knowledge-based business future,' David Dodwell, convenor for the Business Coalition on Education, said. An umbrella group set up last year, the organisation acts as a bridge between business and government. 'Like New York or London, Hong Kong has highly specialised needs. It therefore needs to draw on a globalised graduate pool. We will always be looking further afield for qualified talent,' Mr Dodwell said. Although important, tertiary education was not the business community's primary concern, he said. 'First of all, a lot of Hong Kong kids can and do go to university outside of Hong Kong. Secondly, in terms of recruitment, companies here are allowed by Immigration Department rules to recruit from overseas [employees with graduate-level qualifications].' The most important consideration, he said, was to improve the training and education of students at the sub-degree level - in other words, those in secondary schools and at such institutions as the Vocational Training Council. 'If you look at the information technology [IT] sector, we're expecting a shortage of 50,000 to 100,000 technicians by the year 2005,' Mr Dodwell said. 'If we have a shortage in the IT graduate category, we can bring people in from Taiwan, California or London. At the technician level, we are entirely reliant on the local pool.' Mr Dodwell called on the private sector to play a bigger role in education. 'The fact that Hong Kong's education sector has been the monopoly of the Government has been a problem rather than an advantage,' he said. 'There are business leaders here raising huge sums for Harvard or Yale or the University of Southern California. Why have they been so reluctant to make similar commitments to local universities? It's puzzling and it's disappointing.' The Government could also create an environment that was more conducive to attracting overseas institutions of higher learning. Several world-class universities, including Johns Hopkins, Insead and the University of Chicago, were setting up bases in Singapore. Others had already established campuses in Thailand, Malaysia and Japan. 'Unlike in Singapore, they were not offered land grants or other financial incentives that would make it commercially viable [for them to consider establishing a campus in Hong Kong],' Mr Dodwell said.