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Speech by FS at Launching Ceremony of Youth
Business Hong Kong (English only)


Following is the speech by the Financial Secretary, Mr Henry Tang, at the Launching Ceremony of Youth Business Hong Kong at the Convention and Exhibition Centre this afternoon (July 12):

Rosanna, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

It is my great pleasure to join you today at the launching ceremony of Youth Business Hong Kong.  I am particularly pleased to note that the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups is joining hands with our business sector and the international community to help our young people develop their entrepreneurial skills.

International reports show that unemployment among young people is generally more serious than the population average and youth unemployment rate could easily be two to three times higher than the overall rate.  Hong Kong is no exception.  But, compared with other developed economies, we are actually not doing too badly.  The latest unemployment rate for the 15-24 age group stood at 9.7%, which was just four percentage points higher than the overall unemployment rate.  That said, there is no room for complacency.

Indeed, the Government cares very much about youth unemployment and has devoted considerable resources and introduced a wide range of initiatives to meet this challenge.  During the past few years, we launched the "Youth Pre-employment Training Programme" to provide young school leavers with employment-related training.  We also launched the "Youth Work Experience and Training Scheme" to provide on-the-job training to young people.  

These programmes have proved highly popular among our youths and employers because our youths can acquire not only useful vocational training, but also much-needed soft and inter-personal skills.  Up to now, more than 57,000 young people were trained, some 22,000 trainees were placed into training vacancies and another 12,000 found jobs through our assistance under these programmes.

To provide an alternative to traditional salaried employment, we rolled out the "Youth Self-employment Support Scheme" in May, 2004.  Under this scheme, we offered a full range of training, facilities and administrative support for young people with motivation, innovative ideas and entrepreneurship.  With real-life entrepreneurs and business executives acting as their mentors, the trainees will take up self-employment assignments.  So far, the trainees have successfully conducted over 7 300 business transactions and generated profits of more than $3.4 million.

On this special occasion, I would like to commend the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups for the marvellous work you have done in unleashing the talent and promoting the entrepreneurial spirit of our younger generation.  I am so pleased that the federation has taken the initiative to launch Youth Business Hong Kong, which complements the Government's efforts in promoting employment services for the youth.  With the provision of business mentors and seed funds, this programme presents a perfect opportunity for our young people to venture into the real business world.  

Young people are our most valuable asset.  Promoting entrepreneurship among young people serves not only to enhance their self-esteem and experience, but also to foster a younger generation of entrepreneurs.  This is the key to maintaining a dynamic business sector in our economy and continuous expansion of our job market.

When young people first seek to set up their own business, they may not have a lot of financial resources to start with, so it is of paramount importance that they should capitalise on their creativity and innovative ideas.  They could make up for their apparent lack of financial strengths and business experience by bringing in new ideas and new ways of satisfying the market's needs.  

But they must also remember that there is no short cut to success - they must develop well thought-out and viable business plans and must be prepared to work hard persistently towards their goals and walk the extra mile.

I would like to remind our young people that youth is your most valuable asset.  Do follow your dreams and endeavour to fulfil them by seizing every opportunity available.  I am sure many of you will soon be fascinated by the thrill of success, which will keep you moving.  But, I am equally sure that not all your ventures will be successful.  Yet, you should never be frightened by the possibility of failure.  To have the courage to concede defeat, accept responsibility, learn from your own mistakes and rise above future challenges is the most precious experience and perhaps the biggest blessing in life.  

So my advice to our young entrepreneurs is quite simple: be creative, pursue your dreams, plan carefully, work hard and don't be afraid of failure.  The important thing is to learn from mistakes and move on and try again.

Thank you very much.

Ends/Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Issued at HKT 16:32


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