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Speech by SLW at signing ceremony of Working Holiday Scheme between Germany and HK (English only)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, at the signing ceremony of the Working Holiday Scheme between Germany and Hong Kong today (June 26):

Consul-General (Mr Burbach), honourable members of the German federal parliament, distinguished guests and friends, ladies and gentlemen,

     It gives me great pleasure to sign the Declaration of Intent on the Working Holiday Scheme with Germany today.  This is a memorable occasion for which we have been longing for quite some time.  I wish to extend a very warm welcome to the members of the federal parliament from Germany for witnessing this ceremony.

     I am very pleased that this working holiday scheme will enable young people to gain valuable experience living and working in Germany.  Feedback from those who have participated in our existing working holiday schemes with Australia, Ireland and New Zealand has been positive.  Specifically, more than 6,200 Hong Kong youngsters have benefited from their stay in those countries to experience life very different from what they are used to in Hong Kong, taking up temporary jobs while touring around and making friends with locals and scheme participants from all over the world.  Similarly, I trust that the 1,200 young people from Australia, Ireland and New Zealand who came to Hong Kong have experienced our cosmopolitan and vibrant way of life and our ˇ§work hard, play hardˇ¨ spirit and ˇ§East meets Westˇ¨ flavour.

     Through working and holidaying in another country, not only could they explore the very different yet interesting cultures and customs; more importantly, they have learnt to be independent and confident.  They understood more about themselves, both their strengths and weaknesses, and enhanced their global outlook as well as their communication and social skills in dealing with people from diverse backgrounds.  Indeed, these are the very essential soft skills that our next generation should develop and possess in the age of globalisation.  Some scheme participants shared that their experience enhanced their careers too as the resulting changes in their attitudes towards life and work are very much valued by their employers.

     I am sure that the scheme with Germany will be equally successful and fruitful for young people from both sides.  As the first working holiday scheme with a continental European country, I am sure that Germany will become a popular destination for our youngsters eager to experience the culture and history of Germany and the diversity of continental Europe.  I trust that the scheme would also strengthen the bilateral ties between Germany and Hong Kong, and help promote tourism, cultural exchange and mutual understanding.

     The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government will appeal to our schools and universities, as well as the business sector to help promote the scheme and encourage our young people to make the best of the opportunity offered by the scheme.  Lastly, I must thank the Consul- General (Mr Burbach) and his colleagues in the German Consulate General in Hong Kong most warmly for their kind assistance in bringing this very worthwhile scheme to fruition.  
     Thank you very much.

Ends/Friday, June 26, 2009
Issued at HKT 16:00


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