An environmental conscience and the knowledge to back it up may soon be graduation requirements for students at the Institute of Vocational Education. The Vocational Training Council, which operates Hong Kong's nine IVE campuses, is in the planning stages of a curriculum overhaul that will integrate environmental responsibility into IVE's nine existing disciplines and possibly add another course relating to environmental management. Reacting to the advent of 'green' practices internationally, the council is also exploring the possibility of complementary laboratory and teaching facilities at its Tsing Yi campus and requiring all students to take environmental awareness courses during their first year. 'The ultimate aim is to prepare an environmentally competent workforce for Hong Kong and the mainland,' said Albert Li Sau-sang, who is heading the exploratory committee assessing the extent to which the changes should be implemented. Although the new coursework will be grounded in theories of environmentally sustainable development, it will be offered to students in more practical terms, Mr Li said. 'It has to do with small things, like how they conduct their daily work,' said Mr Li, who hopes to implement the changes by September 2009. Design students, for example, would learn how to create recyclable products. Business students would learn how to determine whether products had been produced in an environmentally responsible way. Joseph Lee Hung-kwong, head of IVE Tsing Yi's construction department, said the institute had to adapt to keep up with industry standards to keep students competitive. 'There is increasing concern about this issue and more and more environmental mandates will be introduced by the government.' But some instructors and industry leaders questioned the benefits. Secretary-general of the Hong Kong Construction Association Thomas Tse Che-wah said the benefits of teaching environmental management skills to students bound for entry-level positions were minimal. 'This is background education. This will not add any particular weight to employment considerations,' he said.