Hong Kong will develop a world-class information technology training centre in the planned CyberPort project in response to a chronic shortage of talent. Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting Carrie Yau Tsang Ka-lai said the centre would support an earlier commitment by the Government to increase the number of overseas IT professionals in Hong Kong. 'We will do everything we can to make the system here more flexible, otherwise, we will lose out to the rest of the world,' Mrs Yau said. Seven companies have applied to work with the Government in the design and development of the centre's training programmes. Mrs Yau said the development costs of the project would be shared by CyberPort's owner, Pacific Century CyberWorks, and the Government. IT courses would be offered once the second phase of CyberPort had been completed - expected to be in 2003. Also, there would be an exchange programme with overseas universities. 'We want to send a very strong message that Hong Kong wants to attract overseas talent to work for our local companies,' Mrs Yau said. Research indicates Hong Kong has an annual shortfall of about 1,000 in the number of graduate IT students it needs to turn out. Mrs Yau said Singapore had been offering incentives to attract mainland IT workers.