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Speech by SEDL at the opening ceremony of the Education and Careers Expo 2007 (English only)

    Following is the speech by the Secretary for Economic Development and Labour, Mr Stephen Ip, at the opening ceremony of the Education & Careers Expo 2007 today (February 1) (English only):

Fred, Matthew, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     I am very glad to be here to officiate at the opening ceremony of the Education & Careers Expo 2007.  The expo today seeks to provide our young people with the latest information on training, further studies and career opportunities.

     This year marks the 17th anniversary of the Education & Careers Expo.  Over the years, the expo has established itself as the leading event of its kind in Hong Kong.  I am delighted to learn that nearly 500 exhibitors from 15 countries and regions participate in the event today.  Through exhibitions, seminars, forums and video shows in the next few days, visitors will learn a lot about education and career opportunities.

     The labour market in Hong Kong has improved steadily.  The unemployment rate fell from an all-time high of 8.6% after SARS in mid-2003 to 4.4% in December, 2006, the lowest since the beginning of 2001.  Total employment surged to a record high of over 3.52 million and more than 334,000 jobs have been created since mid-2003.

     Despite the steady improvement in the general employment scene, we must continue to equip our young people for the world of work.  Indeed, given the rapid development in technology, innovation and globalisation, young people should keep their eyes open and ears close to the ground.  They must keep themselves abreast of the labour market situation.  There are good employment opportunities in the financial, logistics and information technology services sectors.  We will also see a further boost in job opportunities in the tourism, hotel, catering and retail trades.

     It is important for our young people to make realistic assessment of their own interests, talent, qualifications and expectations with a view to mapping out their career paths.  To achieve their career goals, they should strive to equip themselves with the necessary knowledge and skills.  There are plenty of options in store.  Further study is one way and on-the-job training is another.  The HKSAR Government has put in place a number of youth training and work experience programmes which achieved good results in assisting young people in finding jobs.  I should stress that learning is a life-long process.  Young people must therefore constantly upgrade their skills and knowledge.  As the saying goes, no one can tell when an opportunity comes but only those who are well equipped are capable of making the best of it.

     I hope that the comprehensive information available in the expo today will help our young people make the right choice in the pursuit of their careers.  I wish the expo every success and all of you a happy, healthy and successful Year of the Pig.  Thank you.

Ends/Thursday, February 1, 2007
Issued at HKT 10:53


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