Cut bureaucracy to widen training, council head says

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 February, 2012, 12:00am


The government must speed up procedures to develop the vocational education sector amid increasing demand for places, the new chairman of the Vocational Training Council (VTC) said yesterday.

At the VTC's annual spring lunch, Clement Chen Cheng-jen shared his concerns about the industry's development as a whole and cited the International Cuisine College as an example of where the government could reduce its bureaucracy to promote vocational training.

The first batch of students at the college will be enrolled in the 2014 academic year and are expected to move into the new campus in 2015.

But Chen said there was no clear decision yet on where the campus would be built.

Chen said he feared that although there were no visible signs of a delay, the government should speed up its procedures so the school could meet the 2015 deadline.

The VTC's executive director, Dr Carrie Willis, agreed, saying the preferred location was Pok Fu Lam, near the Chinese Cuisine Training Institute. Willis said that if the campus was not ready, students would have to share facilities in existing school buildings, straining resources.

The government tended not to be inflexible about capital investment and the importing of top-grade machinery for new campuses, Chen said. 'I hope the red tape can be removed.'

It would also take time for the school to make a campus fully operational, he said.

An Education Bureau spokeswoman said authorities would facilitate the completion of the project.

'We understand that the VTC is still considering the location of the new International Cuisine College. Relevant factors include synergy with existing facilities in Pok Fu Lam, the views of the local community and the appropriateness of the site,' she said, when asked about the suitability of the Pok Fu Lam location.

The college, announced in Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's policy address last year, will be the third such school and will specialise in wine and international food.

Meanwhile, the VTC plans to build its eighth integrated training centre for secondary school graduates. The centre, to be built in Tseung Kwan O, will reserve 240 places, about half, for members of ethnic minorities.

Fermi Wong Wai-fun, of Unison, which campaigns for the rights of ethnic minorities, welcomed the centre's development, but said it should offer a wider range of courses. 'Existing courses mainly focus on hospitality and business subjects, and the options are insufficient,' she said.

A VTC spokeswoman said 680 of its existing students were from ethnic minorities.

Wong said many of the classes were conducted in Cantonese, making it difficult for ethnic minority students to learn, and many also struggled to pay the tuition fees.