Following is a speech by the Acting Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Michael Suen, at the Symposium on Organizational Learning today (November 26):
Ms Burnett, Mr Davies, Guests and Colleagues,
It is my pleasure to join you this afternoon at the Symposium on Organizational Learning and to meet the participants and winners of the Human Resource Development Award.
The management guru Moss Kanter once said, "Brainpower is to the global information economy as oil was to the industrial economy". In an age where intellectual capacity is fast gaining importance, we must embrace learning as a continuous process to harness the power of our own potential as well as that of people in our organizations. Life-long learning is the key to success.
All of us are keenly aware that we are now living in an age of unprecedented change - changes that are brought about by breathtaking technological advancements, shifts in the economic paradigm, and increasing expectations from the community.
Our success is not measured by how well we do in good times, and our strength lies in how well we face up to the challenges of bad times. Now that we are amidst a global economic slowdown, let us remind ourselves that we must find ways to stay ahead of the game so that we remain progressive and competitive when the economy picks up again. There is no escaping from this process of consolidation and adjustment. Indeed, the speed and extent of this process depends on how quickly we learn to take advantage of technological advancements, how well we respond to shifts in the economic paradigm and how well we manage expectations from the community. I do see all these as essential ingredients of life-long learning.
It is important therefore for us to instill a learning culture both within and outside the civil service. The Government has been playing a key role in this respect. Over the past years, we have put heavy emphasis on upgrading our human capital and have devoted considerable resources to training and retraining our workforce. In his Policy Address this October, the Chief Executive announced that the Government will set aside $5 billion to subsidize people with learning aspirations to pursue continuing education and training programmes. This is on top of the annual funds of over $2 billion made available to the Vocational Training Council, $1 billion over 3 years to various training institutions, $400 million for the establishment of a training fund to subsidise Small and Medium Enterprises' training initiatives, as well as funds earmarked for IT training and for programmes and grants under the Employees Retraining Board.
Within the civil service, you may be aware that the Chief Executive announced in his Policy Address last year that over $1 billion had been allocated on an annual recurrent basis for training and development. He also set an example in promoting life-long learning by allocating $50 million for a 3-year training and development programme in the service. The programme started this April. The Civil Service Training and Development Institute has been organizing various training programmes to promote continuous learning and to equip civil servants with the necessary skills and knowledge to meet the latest service requirements.
To bring about more systematic training and development for staff, the Civil Service Bureau has encouraged departments and grades to draw up detailed annual departmental training and development plans, and has produced for this purpose a detailed and helpful guidebook which is included in the folder distributed to you today. I am pleased to learn from the Secretary for the Civil Service that the majority of our departments have such annual training and development plans. For those which have yet to draw up a plan, I encourage you to do so now.
The Civil Service Bureau is also developing a Directorate Leadership Guide which recommends a personal development strategy and a variety of self-learning resources and activities for directorate officers. This will provide a very handy guide to our senior colleagues in mapping out plans to pursue their self-development journey, and to meet the changes and challenges ahead of us.
Today, I am very glad to see that the departments participating in this Human Resource Development Award have put in tremendous efforts to foster continuous learning in their own organizations. I would like to commend you, award winners or not, for your commitment, efforts and achievements, and for sharing your experience with us on how best to improve the organizational learning process. I am counting on you to continue your efforts.
I also look to all of you for your support and participation in establishing in the civil service and in the wider community a new learning culture - a culture that embraces change and innovation for better service delivery, a culture that fosters critical thinking, and one that motivates people to formulate initiatives and bring them to fruition.
End/Monday, November 26, 2001