With the economy rebounding, higher education offers managers a chance to upgrade their skills, boost their career opportunities and get ahead of the pack HONG KONG IS back. The economy is registering strong growth, mainland tourists are pouring across the border, unemployment is down and foreign investment is on the rise. Disneyland is set to open in September and property transactions are at their highest since the 1997 handover. What a difference a year makes. With the economy on the mend, savvy professionals are once again thinking about ways to speed their way up the executive ladder. And many insiders are saying this might be the perfect time to upgrade your skills. 'New economic prosperity creates excellent career opportunities for managers who have differentiated themselves from others in the labour market,' said Robin Edwards, director of external relations at the Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM). 'Managers can showcase their talent by demonstrating an exceptional educational pedigree - one that is truly international and transportable.' Enrolling in higher education programmes can help managers take advantage of the opportunities that Hong Kong's economic recovery is starting to create. 'It will become increasingly difficult, in the very competitive market for management talent, for managers to advance to the highest levels in world-class organisations without the structural support that comes from a quality tertiary education,' Ms Edwards said. 'Now is the perfect time for managers to return to the classroom to obtain the necessary qualifications and management skills that will enable their continued success.' MGSM has designed a series of programmes that can form an integrated pathway leading to an MBA, with multiple entry and exit points. Participants with an undergraduate degree and three to five years of professional or managerial experience can request direct entry at the master's level. Those without a prior degree can enrol in the postgraduate certificate or postgraduate diploma in management. All of the classes are taught to MBA standards. The postgraduate certificate in management consists of three core units: accounting for management, human resource management and marketing management. Candidates successfully completing the certificate can move on to the postgraduate diploma in management. Because they will have already completed three of the six units required to obtain a diploma, they will only have to take three electives to complete the required six units. The master of management consists of 10 units. Because candidates will already have completed six units to obtain their postgraduate diploma, they only need to take another four units, which can be done in a number of specialisations. After they have obtained a Master of Management, they will qualify for an MBA by taking a further six units. 'Flexibility is one of the more important features which distinguish MGSM programmes, whether in Hong Kong, Singapore or Australia,' Ms Edwards said. 'The Hong Kong block teaching timetable for each subject of Friday night, Saturday afternoon and evening, and all day Sunday, repeated on a second consecutive weekend, does not take students away from normal working hours.' MGSM's building-block approach offers a host of benefits. 'The advantages of the integrated suite of programmes are the multiple entry and graduation points available,' Ms Edwards said. 'For example, some candidates are sure that they wish to undertake an MBA and may qualify for direct entry into that programme. Another person may wish to begin with a lesser number of units and undertake a postgraduate certificate or diploma. 'Others again may wish to undertake the master of management in a specialised area, such as financial management, general management, human resources management, information technology management, logistics and operations management or marketing management,' Ms Edwards added. The postgraduate certificate and postgraduate diploma in management were launched in Hong Kong this year. The MBA programme has been taught in Australia since 1969 and in Hong Kong since 1999. The Master of Management has been offered in Australia and Hong Kong since 1994. MGSM also offers postgraduate courses and a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA). Only the DBA is offered in Hong Kong. MGSM received European Quality Improvement System accreditation from the European Foundation for Management Development earlier this year. Applications are currently being accepted and must be submitted by September 19. Classes will commence in January next year.