LOOKING FOR A ONE-STOP shop for fresh ideas on furthering your studies or a career? Look no further than the Education & Careers Expo 2007. The expo, now in its 17th year, has become a favourite place for employers, educational institutions and related organisations to showcase their services and recruit new people. The event, which will feature more than 490 exhibitors from 15 countries and regions, opens today at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. The expo, which ends on Sunday, is co-organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) and the Labour Department. Most of the visitors are likely to be Hong Kong students and young adults seeking information about job opportunities or continuing education. Many are interested in gaining the skills needed for a knowledge-based global economy. Building on its success over the years, the expo has also been promoting its education services to visitors from the mainland, particularly from Guangzhou and Shenzhen, said Anne Chick, senior exhibitions manager at the TDC. 'The expo is an excellent platform for students, job seekers, working individuals and professionals to obtain first-hand information on education, training and career development,' Ms Chick said. Exhibitors regard the event as a practical and valuable marketing tool. 'This is an opportunity for us to build up our brand image and deliver information to our target students,' said Ricky Chan, a spokesman for the Hong Kong School of Commerce, which offers accounting and workplace English diploma programmes for Form Five graduates and working adults. Mr Chan said students found accounting 'interesting, and a bright career path', adding that those who completed the Hong Kong School of Commerce programme could use the qualification as a stepping stone to obtaining a university education. The Hong Kong Art School has been an exhibitor at the expo for the past four years. 'We have had a very good response at past expos, especially in targeting Form Five and Form Seven students,' said Chloe Ng, the school's assistant manager of communications and external relations. The school offers fine arts, applied arts and media arts programmes. 'We have been seeing more interest in art over the past couple of years,' she said. Part of this year's expo theme is 'Reaching out for brighter prospects'. Visitors can sample a smorgasbord of 60 seminars, 30 education forums and 140 career video sessions at the exhibition. Another expo highlight is a series of theme days, starting with Chinese Mainland Study Day today, Financial Planning Day and US Study Day, both on Saturday, and Continuing Education Day on Sunday. There are two theme zones this year. The Financial Planning Industry Zone focuses on the rapidly growing field of financial planning in Hong Kong. Exhibitors include the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, the Hong Kong branch of Manulife (International), the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants and American Express International. Employment prospects, entry requirements and opportunities for continuing education in the emerging industry will be covered. The Tourism and Retail Industry Zone returns with exhibitors such as The Excelsior, Hong Kong; Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong and Starbucks Coffee Hong Kong. The expo is divided into two major sections - education and careers. In the careers section are government agencies, quasi-government organisations and private enterprises covering sectors such as banking, logistics, insurance, accounting, information technology, tourism and finance. Visitors to the education section will get a comprehensive overview of education and training opportunities. Local educational institutions at the expo includes Hong Kong University's School of Professional and Continuing Education, Lingnan Institute of Further Education and the Community College at Lingnan University, the Open University of Hong Kong, the Vocational Training Council and Caritas Adult and Higher Education Service. There will be six group pavilions representing institutions from Australia, the mainland, Europe, Macau, New Zealand and the United States. The China pavilion will feature about 20 universities, including Jilin University, Xiamen University, Jimei University, Jinan University, Huaqiao University, Northeast Normal University and Wuhan University. For the third time, the Beijing-Hong Kong Academic Exchange Centre is participating in the expo, providing consultancy services to students interested in studying in the mainland. In addition, a Study in Europe pavilion will outline educational systems in Europe and the advantages of studying there. Participating countries at the expo include Hong Kong, the mainland, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Macau, New Zealand, Scotland, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, Britain and the US. The show is open to the public and admission is free.