The Hong Kong Council for Academic Accreditation is to be extended to cover vocational education as it develops a new qualifications framework that will embrace all levels of study, from doctorates to catering certificates. New qualifications may be created for chefs, watchmakers and other workers under the framework being developed by the Education and Manpower Bureau. As the council takes on its new role, its name will be changed to the Hong Kong Council for Academic and Vocational Accreditation. It is discussing with EMB officials and representatives from five industries - watchmaking, hairdressing, Chinese catering, printing and property management - on setting qualifications benchmarks for their employees. It is part of the bureau's efforts to develop a qualifications framework - a seven-level hierarchy of qualifications embracing academic, vocational and continuing education training - to promote lifelong learning. HKCAA will launch an on-line 'qualifications register' in the middle of next year, listing all quality assured courses for all fields. 'Overseas experience shows the introduction of the framework will create new momentum for continuing education, employee training and skills upgrading in the industries in general,' said council chairman York Liao. The council's panel of 1,026 experts would be expanded to include specialists from different trades. Dr Liao said the council welcomed all industries to discuss with them their qualifications or benchmark requirements for various types of staff. HKCAA executive director Peter Cheung Po-tak, former secretary-general of the University Grants Committee, said PhD holders were likely to be at the top of the hierarchical framework, while at the bottom could be certificate holders.