Speech by CE at VPET International Conference and WorldSkills Hong Kong Competition and Carnival 2017 (English only) (with photos/video)
Clement (Chairman of the Vocational Training Council, Dr Clement Chen), Vice Minister Tang (Vice Minister of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, Mr Tang Tao), Deputy Director Tan (Deputy Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Tan Tieniu), Deputy Minister Yap (Deputy Minister of Higher Education of the Ministry of Higher Education of Malaysia, Dr Mary Yap), Vice Minister Napathorn (Vice Minister for Education of the Ministry of Education of Thailand, Dr Sophon Napathorn), Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, government colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning. A warm welcome to the Vocational and Professional Education and Training International Conference, taking place alongside the Worldskills Hong Kong Competition and Carnival.
My thanks to the young dancers for their delightful performance. They are students and graduates of the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education and the Hong Kong Design Institute – both pillars of our Vocational Training Council (VTC). As you saw, their talent extends well beyond the classroom, thanks to the diverse education and training offered by the VTC.
For the past 35 years, the VTC has offered diversified choices for countless Hong Kong students and working adults, equipping them with the knowledge, skills and values they need for lifelong learning and enhanced employability.
So yes, the VTC – or vocational education in general – has been a critical source in addressing the manpower needs of Hong Kong's many employers and industries. And my Government has put a priority on promoting vocational education among our youngsters.
In my 2014 Policy Address, I said that "mainstream education is not a straightjacket that fits all young people as everyone has his or her own interests and abilities. The Government should re-establish the positioning of vocational education in our education system and guide the younger generation in choosing their career."
Indeed, as President Xi Jinping said at a national working meeting in 2014, vocational education is an important part of the national education system, as it gives young people technical and specialised skills, and promotes employment and entrepreneurship.
My Government has put forth a number of policy measures to promote vocational education. We have put more emphasis on professional knowledge and the professional image of vocational education – "vocational education and training" has now become "vocational and professional education and training", or VPET in short, covering programmes up to degree level. A high percentage of the curriculum consists of specialised vocational skills or professional knowledge. The point is clear: VPET is not a second choice but, rather, entirely compatible with the traditional academic pathway.
We are also enhancing our financial commitment to VPET. Each year, we spend more than US$300 million on VPET. And since the Task Force on Promotion of Vocational Education – set up to map out a strategy for promoting vocational education – submitted its report to the Government two years ago, we have invested US$46 million on taking forward the Task Force's recommendations, including stepping up promotion of VPET in the community.
In this year's Policy Address, I announced that the Government has identified a new site for developing a VTC campus with adequate capacity and first-class facilities. We will also support the VTC to construct an Aviation and Marine Engineering Centre.
Today's conference is one of the key events celebrating the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China. Hong Kong, with our strengths in education and professional training, can contribute to our country's education and youth development. For one, our connectivity with both the Mainland of China and the rest of the world will help foster international collaborations, and help bring together education experts – like all of you here – for discussion and experience-sharing.
Ladies and gentlemen, this year also marks the 35th anniversary of the VTC. You are invited to enjoy the WorldSkills Hong Kong Competition and Carnival, along with other activities and events, all showcasing the achievements and remarkable talent of the Council's students and graduates.
I wish you all a rewarding two days at the conference and a memorable stay in Hong Kong.
Ends/Friday, June 16, 2017
Issued at HKT 10:28
Issued at HKT 10:28