Staff yesterday protested over the Vocational Training Council's plan to let go 900 employees by 2006 and another 360 by 2010, mainly through attrition. About 30 VTC staff staged a sit in at the lobby of the council's headquarters in Wan Chai. Chan Wai-keung, chairman of the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education Teachers' Association, said money could be saved through staff re-deployment. Tuition fees could also rise under an eight-year plan revealed yesterday, which calls for improved efficiency and up-to-date courses to meet market needs. Council chairman Yeung Kai-yin said the plan was aimed at cutting costs and increasing the competitiveness of courses offered by the VTC's member institutions. He said it was necessary to reduce by 30 per cent the overall cost of offering courses by 2010 to cope with the planned withdrawal of government funding for sub-degree programmes and increased competition in the market. The council will invest in improving facilities at its member institutions, including the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education. This upgrading would likely lead to a modest increase in tuition fees, Mr Yeung said. He also expects that about 40 per cent of the council's courses, mainly in information technology and business, will be fully funded by tuition fees by 2010. The council, a major provider of diploma and higher-diploma places for secondary school leavers, is implementing a voluntary retirement scheme in September to help ease staff surplus and address the problem of skills mismatch among its member institutions. A spokesman said new staff would still be hired in future to cope with expanded services or new courses, but they will be employed on revamped remuneration packages.