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Chief Secretary for Administration's speech at Symposium


Following is the speech (English only) by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Anson Chan, at the Opening Ceremony of the Symposium on Continuous Learning and Development in the Civil Service today (April 2):

Distinguished Speakers, Guests and Colleagues,

It gives me great pleasure this morning to open the Symposium on Continuous Learning and Development in the Civil Service, which officially kick-off the three-year Training and Development Programme for Civil Servants.

I just had the opportunity to walk around the exhibition booths in the hall next door. The multi-faceted training and self-learning opportunities offered by various tertiary institutes and government departments are not only impressive - they promise fellow colleagues who are willing to learn and upgrade themselves that the coming three years will be busy and full of excitement.

We all live in an age of unprecedented change. Technological advancements are breathtaking in both their scope and application. We must all keep running in order to keep our place in the line. So, continuous learning must be a subject close to everyone's heart, whether you are an entrepreneur, a manager, or a professional. But I dare say civil servants in Hong Kong feel the pressure somewhat more acutely than others, as we not only have to live up to the growing expectations of the community, but are also increasingly exposed to an assertive legislature and a scrutinising media. But, like all clouds that have a silver lining, the pressure to learn is also a catalyst for constant improvement.

Developing a modern system of recruiting, training, retaining and exiting staff is the spirit behind the Civil Service Reform. Over the last two years, we have successfully modernised our systems for recruitment and retirement. I am glad to see that the Civil Service Bureau is now spearheading improvements to our training arrangements and injecting further impetus to promote a culture of continuous learning within the Civil Service.

I am sure our distinguished guest speakers will have a lot of valuable experience and insights to share on the strategy of training in the Civil Service. Since many of our senior colleagues are here today, I would wish to address just one important issue: "What should the senior management do to incentivise our staff to learn and thrive?" Speaking from my personal experience, there are three "Dos" and one "Don't".

* First, be sensitive and responsive to the

ever-changing needs of the community. That will give us a better idea of what is expected of us and our staff, and help us identify training needs and set the right priorities.

* Secondly, be flexible and innovative. We should always look out for new ways to promote and support learning, and build up a corporate culture of continuous improvement.

* Finally, be a role model. There is nothing more effective in encouraging our staff to learn than actively taking up learning ourselves. For example, although I will retire from the civil service in less than a month's time, I am still having my Putonghua tutorials at least once every week.

* Now the "don't" - do not be short-sighted. People are the single most valuable resource of the Government. Investing in our staff is tantamount to investing in the future of the Government. Heavy workload and tight head counts are clearly not good reasons for depriving staff of training opportunities. I ask particularly my senior colleagues to pay attention to this aspect of their management responsibilities.

The 21st century promises both challenges and opportunities. For the Civil Service to remain up-to-date and competitive, we must invest in training to keep our staff dynamic, resilient and motivated. This three-year Training and Development Programme is a timely and welcome initiative. But I hasten to add that completion of this three-year programme must not be taken as "target achieved". In my view, the programme lays the ground for developing a continuous learning and self-enhancing culture in the Civil Service. During and after these three years, a lot remains to be done. And I know many more initiatives are already in the pipeline. I am confident that with the characteristic vision, dedication and perseverance of my colleagues, we will be able to sustain the momentum and achieve remarkable results.

Finally, I would like to congratulate colleagues who have worked so hard to organise today's event, and to thank our guests speakers and exhibitors for their participation. I am sure this Symposium will stimulate insightful exchanges and help form a solid foundation for implementing the three-year Training and Development Programme. I wish you all a very fruitful discussion.

Thank you.

End/Monday, April 2, 2001