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Speech by PSLW at Education & Careers Expo 2008 (English only)

    Following is the speech by the Permanent Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Paul Tang Kwok-wai, at the opening ceremony of the Education & Careers Expo 2008 today (February 21):

Fred, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

    I am glad to be here to officiate at the opening ceremony of the Education & Careers Expo 2008. 

    This year marks the 18th anniversary of the Education & Careers Expo, which over the years has established itself as an annual premier event in providing latest information on further studies, training and career avenues in one stop.  Through exhibitions, seminars, forums and career video shows in the next few days, visitors will better understand the education and career opportunities available in Hong Kong and worldwide.

    The labour market in Hong Kong has improved remarkably in tandem with our robust economic performance in the past few years.  The unemployment rate fell from an all-time high of 8.5% during SARS in mid-2003 to the latest 3.4%.  The total employment figure has surged to a record high of over 3.55 million.

    Despite the steady improvement in the general employment scene, young people, especially school leavers, invariably face difficulties in finding suitable jobs because of their lack of work experience.  We will therefore continue to equip our young people with updated latest labour market information, and step up efforts in helping those who have difficulty adjusting to an increasingly knowledge-based economy through education and training.  We will also help school leavers to pursue continuing education and provide an environment conducive to lifelong learning. 

    The Government has put in place a number of youth training and work experience programmes which assist young people in entering the world of work.  The Youth Pre-employment Training Programme and the Youth Work Experience and Training Scheme of the Labour Department provide co-ordinated and through-train pre-employment and on-the-job training to young people.

    The Interactive Employment Service of the Labour Department provides free and convenient employment service to help job-seekers find suitable jobs and employers fill their vacancies.  To promote the sustainable development of our young people, the Labour Department has also set up in December last year the first Youth Employment Resource Centre called "Youth Employment Start"(Y.E.S.) in Langham Place, Mong Kok.  The brand-new centre provides one-stop advisory and support services on employment and self-employment to young people aged 15 to 29.  The second Y.E.S. in Kwai Fong will be opened next month.

    Indeed, given the rapid development in technology, innovation and globalisation nowadays, young people must assess their own interests, talents, qualifications and expectations realistically, upgrade their skills and knowledge constantly, and keep abreast of the labour market situation proactively in choosing their careers.

    I trust that the comprehensive information available in the Expo today will assist our young people in "Mapping New Directions", the theme of the 2008 Expo, in the pursuit of either further education or careers.  Last but not least, I wish the Expo every success and all of you a happy, healthy and successful Year of the Rat.  Thank you.

Ends/Thursday, February 21, 2008
Issued at HKT 11:23


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