Reboot: Vocational education deserves a higher status
As in past years, the Hong Kong Civic Association has taken a long-term view of the chief executive’s annual policy address to the Legislative Council. We are therefore putting forward our views to the government on one major issue that would have long-term impact on Hong Kong’s educational, social and cultural development, as well as our economic competitiveness.
In his address, Chief Executive CY Leung emphasised “young people can develop their interests and realise their potential through vocational education”. The government has accepted the 27 recommendations of the Task Force on Promotion of Vocational Education. CY promised the administration will now “actively consider how to implement them”.
Our association proposes the government fill as soon as possible the vacant post of deputy secretary for fabour and welfare (welfare 1), since the post is responsible for “policy matters relating to manpower planning, vocational training and retraining”, among other responsibilities.
We also propose whoever is appointed should concurrently be appointed as “Commissioner for Manpower Development” to coordinate cross-bureau or cross-departmental manpower development initiatives.
Foremost among the task force recommendations is that vocational education and training in Hong Kong be rebranded as vocational and professional education and training, covering programmes up to degree level with a high percentage of curriculum consisting of specialised content in vocational skills or professional knowledge. In other words, students pursuing such training are not inferior to those following the traditional academic route. They may have the ability to pursue traditional academic education but they have chosen vocational and professional training because of personal interests.
The government, as recommended by the task force, should embark on an extensive and long-term programme to promote this route and to emphasise that those graduates with lower qualifications can articulate to higher education under a multiple entry and exit system underpinned by the qualifications framework. Hence it’s not a dead end.
Secondary schools should be encouraged to undertake career and life planning education and enhance individual guidance and support to students to facilitate self-understanding and explore multiple pathways.
Finally, the government should give priority to earmarking a site in the urban district, as stated in the policy address, to develop a Vocational Training Council campus with adequate capacity and state-of-the-art facilities.
Hilton Cheong-Leen, president, Frederick Lynn, chairman, Hong Kong Civic Association