Change of mindset needed in Hong Kong over vocational education
Hong Kong Civic Association supports the recommendation of the Task Force on Promotion of Vocational Education to rebrand vocational education and training as "vocational and professional education and training". This would be more aligned to the current educational situation in Hong Kong.
The rebranding would lead to programmes up to degree level, with many curriculums comprising specialised content in vocational skills or professional knowledge.
Such courses are already training and equipping students and others with the necessary skills and knowledge for effective performance in a wide range of professions and industries.
Course providers include not only the Vocational Training Council (VTC), but also smaller training providers and some other university-level educational institutions.
The local perception is that vocational education is a second choice for school leavers. One way to change that entrenched attitude could be by expanding initiatives such as the VTC pilot scheme, whereby secondary three to six school leavers and eligible adult learners are selected for apprenticeship training for certain industries, alongside a guaranteed level of salary and incentive allowance. Our association supports the task force's recommendation to expand the pilot scheme by at least 2,000 more students in 2015-2016.
We have consistently supported the increasingly important role the Qualifications Framework plays in underpinning the development of vocational education, alongside academic and continuing education. The Qualifications Framework system facilitates articulation among academic, vocational and continuing education through its comprehensive network of learning pathways.
Last year, the government set up a dedicated HK$1 billion fund to promote and implement the Qualifications Framework. In view of its importance to the development of VPET and related industries, our association backs the task force's recommendation that the framework be promoted alongside the promotion of VPET.
In addition to supporting all the other task force recommendations, we must emphasise the need for the government to strengthen support for all VPET providers, large and small; provide mega campuses to providers where feasible; expand VPET-related research, such as applied and technology-oriented research; establish a VPET portal as recommended by the task force; and expand links and cooperation with the private sector, such as chambers of commerce, industrial associations and other related institutions.
Professor Laurence Ho Hoi-ming, chairman; Professor George Woo, adviser, welfare and manpower committee; Hilton Cheong-Leen, president; Frederick Lynn, chairman, Hong Kong Civic Association