More schools are expected to start offering career-oriented training in preparation for the proposed reform of senior secondary education, the Education and Manpower Bureau said yesterday. Under the new curriculum, expected to be in place in 2008, students will take two or three elective subjects, as well as the four core subjects of Chinese, English, mathematics and liberal studies. More than 1,400 senior secondary students from 132 schools are already taking part in such career-oriented studies through a pilot programme begun by the bureau. The bureau is now inviting schools to join a scheme - run in conjunction with the government's Yi Jin project for students who fare poorly in HKCEE exams - that allows Form Five students to study career-oriented courses outside the mainstream curriculum. The qualifications offered by the subjects, however, are not publicly recognised as the equivalent of HKCEE subjects. Dominic Chu Fu-yan, chairman of the Subsidised Secondary Schools Council, expected the number of schools offering such courses to rise to 200, more than half the total, in the coming school year. 'It does not matter if the courses are recognised as the equivalents of HKCEE as long as it helps students find jobs,' Mr Chu said. The career-oriented courses offer subjects including business, arts and media, design, information technology, engineering, food production and management, and leisure, tourism and hospitality. Performing arts courses will also be available in the coming school year as the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts becomes one of the course providers. Other providers include the Vocational Training Council. Students will have to pay $5,000 to $8,000 of course fees on top of their school tuition fee. Financial assistance from the government will be available. Christopher Yu Wing-fai, vice- chairman of the Home-School Co-operation Committee, said parents still had reservations about the career-oriented courses. 'It is still not clear if universities will recognise such qualifications,' he said.