This year's Education And Careers Expo, opening today, provides a one-stop shop on education, training and career opportunities. Now in its 13th year, the expo will run until Sunday in Hall 7 of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai. It will be open from 10.30am to 6.30pm today, and from 10am to 6.30pm on subsequent days. Admission is free. This year's theme, 'Mastering Your Future', seeks to get the message across that lifelong and continuous learning are crucial to maintaining one's competitive edge in a knowledge-based, globalised economy. As in previous years, there will be a Hong Kong Higher Education Pavilion, with participation from all eight local tertiary education institutions. Representatives from overseas tertiary education bodies will be on hand to provide information on foreign study. There will be exhibitors specialising in areas including secretarial skills, computers, commerce, catering, fashion design, languages and hotel management. The exhibition, organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and the Labour Department, has over the years attracted a vast array of exhibitors. These range from education organisers, higher education institutions and student counselling services to professional/vocational institutions and specialised industries of all kinds. Establishments in the fields of IT education, hospitality, finance and telecommunication and government departments have all taken part at different times, says the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. For the education stream there are 33 participating organisations from Europe; 112 from Australia; three from Macau; 18 from the United States; and 16 from the mainland, including Wuhan, Jinan and Chong Qing Universities. The trend to 'go north', whether for educational or career opportunities, has been increasing over the past few years. Whereas this trend was not apparent as little as five years ago, the council says the participation of mainland universities is now much more aggressive. Visitors interested in the careers stream will find job vacancy search terminals, an interactive employment service and a careers advisory Web site. There will also be government and semi-governmental bodies on hand, such as the Correctional Services Department, the Customs and Excise Department and police. They offer information about career opportunities in their various fields. Professional bodies will be represented at the expo with the participation of, amongst others, the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers, the Hong Kong Society of Accountants and the Hong Kong Institute of Engineers. During the expo there will be seminars by the various educational institutions both local and overseas as well as seminars by government and semi-governmental organisations as well as the professional organisations. Of particular interest to those seeking educational opportunities are the following seminars. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University's School of Professional Education and Executive Development will be giving a talk about associate degrees on February 20 from 2.30 to 3.30pm in room 602. The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology will give a talk about lifelong learning and what makes a good online degree programme on February 20 from 1.20pm to 2.10pm in room 608. Visitors will find the latest offerings from book publishers, stationery, learning aids and educational equipment. In addition, there will be educational and business software, audio visual equipment and various computer systems on display. According to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, last year there were 343 exhibitors from 16 countries and regions and 194,189 visitors. This year there are more than 360 exhibitors, including at least 56 exhibitors for the careers stream and the remainder for for education. Visit Web site www. hkeducationexpo.com for more details.