The following is a speech by the Secretary for Economic Services, Ms Sandra Lee, at the Vocational Training Council (VTC) Annual Reception today (March 20):
Mr Yeung, Professor Lee, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honoured to be invited to the Annual Reception of the VTC and to speak on the occasion. This evening holds special meaning for me. For one, I am able to meet again Mr Yeung, a seasoned veteran with whom I have worked. For another, I am glad to see Professor Lee again, my teacher at the university years back then. Fond memories of the good old days keep coming back. I am also reminded of my own conviction at the undergraduate years to serve the people of Hong Kong.
The phrase "to serve" has ringing significance to Hong Kong. The service industry is a pillar of the local economy. Take tourism as an example. Its total revenue accounts for five per cent of the Gross Domestic Product. The economy in recent years has increasingly been powered by the service industry. To ensure the competitiveness of the industry, the Special Administrative Region Government spares no effort in enhancing the technology infrastructure and the quality of service. The Economic Services Bureau assumes policy responsibility for ensuring that Hong Kong has the economic infrastructure to maintain its position as a major international centre for business, aviation, shipping and tourism.
Training of manpower plays an important part in making the above objectives a reality. In this regard, I can say with confidence that the VTC has made a lot of contribution. The nine campuses under its Institute of Vocational Education and the twenty training and development centres provide 130 000 training places annually through courses of different modes and levels. Local commercial, industrial and service sectors, including the hotel, catering and tourism industries are well-served by its supply of professionals.
Trainees of these courses are not only confined to graduates looking for pre-employment training. A lot of them are in-service workers keen to upgrade their professional knowledge and skills. I understand that the VTC has in recent years strengthened the training of in-service workers by, for example, upgrading a number of training and development centres, increasing training places and types of courses and developing vigorously web-based learning. Information technology and service industries are areas into which much training effort has been put. Besides, the VTC has established new training centres to meet the market needs. The Chinese Cuisine Training Institute where we are now in is a case in point. It is a new centre which was opened by the Chief Secretary for Administration in December last year.
Earlier Mr Yeung said that the VTC has achieved a lot following reforms of recent years and the results are noticeable. I believe that colleagues of the VTC will not rest on the laurels and will be after even greater mission for future. The Financial Secretary said in the 2001-02 Budget Speech that people are our most precious asset and we must upgrade their capacity to acquire and apply new skills, particularly in IT, so that they are better-equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st Century. The Government, employers and the rest of the community must work together if Hong Kong is to succeed in upgrading its human capital and realising the objective of lifelong learning. I am of firm conviction that the VTC will play an even greater role in manpower training in future. I call on the community at large to support the work of the VTC.
May I wish colleagues, students and trainees of the VTC and all of you here this evening a rewarding year.
End/Tuesday, March 20, 2001