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LCQ18: Qualifications Framework

    Following is a question by the Hon Sin Chung-kai and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (October 31):


     The Education Bureau (formerly the Education and Manpower Bureau) has been promoting the establishment of the Qualifications Framework ("QF") and its associated quality assurance mechanism since 2002.  So far, a total of 12 industries have formed their Industry Training Advisory Committees.  In this regard, will the Government inform this Council :

(a)  of the progress of the work to establish QF by the six industries in which relevant pilot studies were conducted in 2003, and whether it has assessed the effectiveness of such work; if it has, of the assessment criteria and results; if not, the reasons for that ;

(b)  of the difficulties encountered in promoting QF by the industries referred to in item (a) above, and how such difficulties were addressed by the authorities ;

(c)  given that QF for the information and communications technology industry will be implemented by phases, which is different from other industries, and those in the industry may not have in-depth knowledge of the relevant details, whether it has organised additional promotion activities to enable more organisations, employers and employees in the industry to know about QF, so as to enhance its acceptance; if it has, of the details and timetable; if not, the reasons for that ; and

(d)  whether it has formulated a strategy for promoting QF; if it has, of the details and timetable; if not, the reasons for that ?


Madam President,

     In 2003, the Government conducted a pilot study in six industries by forming working groups to test the applicability of the Qualifications Framework (QF) to different industries and to examine the feasibility of developing competency standards for these industries.  The six industries included Chinese Catering, Electrical and Mechanical Services, Information Technology, Watch & Clock, Retail and Accountancy.  The result of the study confirmed that QF was applicable to different industries and that it was feasible to develop competency standards for different industries in Hong Kong.

     Since the completion of the pilot study, we have assisted 12 industries to set up Industry Training Advisory Committees (ITACs): namely, Printing & Publishing, Watch & Clock, Chinese Catering, Hairdressing, Property Management, Jewellery, Information & Communications Technology, Electrical & Mechanical Services, Automotive, Beauty, Logistics and Banking.  The membership of ITACs comprises employers, employees and representatives of relevant professional bodies.  Their primary task is to develop Specifications of Competency Standards (SCSs) that are suited to the needs of the industries.  SCSs set out the competency standards required of employees in individual industries.  So far, seven ITACs have completed drafting of SCSs and five of them have completed industry consultation on the competency standards.  Starting from early 2007, we have also introduced, on a pilot basis, SCS-based skills upgrading courses for the Watch & Clock, Printing & Publishing and Hairdressing industries.  To date, over 2,000 learners have completed the courses.

     In May this year, the Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications Bill was passed by the Legislative Council.  We are now making preparations for the further implementation of QF, including the establishment of an Appeal Board and the making of appeal rules, and preparing for the launching of a Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) mechanism, a Qualifications Register (QR), and relevant QF Support Schemes.  We anticipate that QF will be formally launched within the second quarter of 2008.  In assessing the effectiveness of the implementation of QF, we will take into account the following factors:

(a)  effectiveness of SCSs - we will collect feedback from stakeholders on whether SCSs developed by different industries can reflect accurately competency standards required of employees in the industries concerned and gather suggestions for further improvements;  

(b)  availability of SCS-based courses - we will monitor the number of SCS-based courses organised by providers, the number of participants as well as their feedback on such courses;

(c)  further development of the training market - we will monitor the development of the training market after the implementation of QF, with particular regard to the number of training providers and courses accredited by the Accreditation Authority, and the number of training courses registered by providers under the QR;

(d)  implementation of the RPL mechanism - we will monitor the number of workers who have obtained RPL qualifications and the number of those who pursued further training/studies; and

(e)  implementation of a new accreditation approach - the Accreditation Authority will adopt a new and streamlined accreditation approach that is geared towards the needs of accreditation of vocational qualifications.  The Authority will collect feedback from education and training providers on the new approach.

     QF is a new endeavour which involves relatively complicated concepts and details.  Promoting QF to relevant stakeholders in different industries so as to enhance their knowledge and recognition of QF represents a great challenge.  When conducting the pilot study in 2003, we recognised that the key to the successful implementation of QF was to have a good understanding of the uniqueness of industry concerned and to obtain the consensus and support of different stakeholders.  We will continue to strengthen our communication with the employers, employees, professional bodies, education and training providers and relevant parties.  We will also seek to establish partnerships with them in the promotion and development of QF.

     The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) ITAC has established a Publicity and Promotion Sub-committee to promote QF and SCS in the industry through publishing publicity materials and organising various activities such as briefings and focus groups.  Apart from stepping up co-operation with individual ITACs, we also plan to organise a series of publicity events.  These include launching a QF Promotion Day, producing documentaries, broadcasting promotional programmes on television and different media channels, as well as organising seminars and briefings which cater for the needs of employers¡¦ and employees¡¦ associations in different industries.

     The development of QF is a long-term commitment which requires ongoing communication with different stakeholders and development of partnerships with them.  We will continue to adopt an industry¡Vbased and progressive approach in implementing QF.  Experience in other countries reflects that the implementation of QF may take over ten years to achieve.

Ends/Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Issued at HKT 12:01


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