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Speech by SEDL at Careers Exhibition at HK Polytechnic University (English only)

Following is the speech (English only) by the Secretary for Economic Development and Labour, Mr Stephen Ip, at the Careers Exhibition at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University today (March 16):

Professor Poon, ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to attend the opening ceremony of the Careers Exhibition of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.  

Hong Kong's economy performed well last year -- 240,000 new jobs have been created over the past two years as a result of our economic recovery. The unemployment rate has fallen from an all-time high of 8.6% in mid-2003 to the latest four-year low of 5.2%. Some employers have expressed concern recently about high staff turnover and recruitment difficulties. Indeed, there is a shortage of certain professionals, particularly in the area of financial services such as accountants. Looking ahead, as our economic fundamentals remain sound, we are cautiously optimistic about the employment outlook this year.

All of you who are to graduate this year will be pleased to know that there is growing demand for highly skilled, professional and managerial staff. In recent years, the workforce in this group has grown at an average annual rate of about 4%. In 2005, the Labour Department received some 23,000 vacancies from the private sector requiring university education, an increase of 48.5% over that of 2004. The salaries of 60% of these jobs ranged from $8,000 to $15,000 in 2005. Indeed, the median monthly salary of fresh graduates has increased from $8,000 in 2004 to $8,500 in 2005, representing an increase of 5%. This is good news to all of you who are graduating soon.

It is important for graduates to start planning their careers early. They need to know more about themselves, their interests, strengths and weaknesses. This will help them to find the jobs that suit their interests and personalities. It is also important for them to have up-to-date information about the job market.

Hong Kong enterprises and employers look for talents who are multi-skilled, people who are able to respond to changes and forward-looking. Of course, basic qualities like good communication skills, an innovative mind, good analytical power, leadership and team spirit are also important. As more and more enterprises have operations in the Mainland, they need employees who are able to speak fluent Putonghua and are prepared to work outside Hong Kong. Graduates entering the labour market should be prepared to take on these challenges.  

There are opportunities in each trade and profession¡]¦æ¦æ¥Xª¬¤¸). Gaining working experience will help graduates to plan for their future careers. Don't place too much weight on the starting pay, as the long-term prospects of the job are much more important.

In a knowledge-based economy today, graduates must pursue lifelong learning and seek to upgrade their skills all the time in order to maintain their competitive edge in the job market.

Ladies and gentlemen, one of the missions of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University is to offer "programmes that are application-oriented and students who can apply theories in practice". For many years, the university has been committed to training high-quality professionals, developing new technologies and new knowledge. In the past, the university has turned out graduates who are intellectual, capable of independent thinking and ready to explore new areas in this fast-changing world. They have made valuable contributions to the community and I believe the graduates this year will do equally well.

I wish all of you a very successful career in the future and I am sure you will find the careers exhibition today fruitful and rewarding. Thank you.    

Ends/Thursday, March 16, 2006
Issued at HKT 13:26