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LCQ7: Qualifications Framework

     Following is a question by the Hon Samson Tam Wai-ho and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (June 17):


     The Qualifications Framework ("QF"), officially implemented by the Government on May 5, 2008, enables people engaged in various industries to set, through the qualification level recognition system of QF in accordance with their individual qualifications, experience and capabilities, clear goals and directions for further studies in order to obtain quality-assured qualifications.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the work progress of the 12 Industry Training Advisory Committees already set up at present, as well as whether it has assessed the effectiveness of the relevant work; if so, of the assessment results; if not, the reasons for that;

(b) whether it has explored how QF of Hong Kong and the accreditation mechanisms on the Mainland and overseas can interconnect and mutually recognise, as well as whether it has studied the feasibility of establishing mechanisms such as "one examination for two certificates" or "one certificate for two examinations" and mutual exemption of qualification assessment; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(c) whether it has looked into how QF can interoperate and interface with the other relevant professional accreditation systems in Hong Kong, so as to avoid duplication and confusion among different systems?


(a) The main task of the Industry Training Advisory Committees (ITACs), at the initial stage after their establishment, is to develop Specifications of Competency Standards (SCS).  The SCSs set out clearly the skills, knowledge and outcome standards required of employees in different functional areas of the respective industries, and enable course operators to design training courses to meet the needs of the industries.  Of the 12 ITACs established so far, eight have finalised their SCSs (Note 1), while two others are currently conducting extensive consultation on the draft SCSs.  For the remaining two ITACs, the drafting of SCSs is nearing completion.  Upon completion of the SCSs, the ITACs will actively promote the use of the SCSs and encourage training organisations to make reference to the SCSs in designing their training courses.  As at today, training organisations have organised more than 100 SCS-based courses with over 5,000 participants.  On the whole, the work of the ITACs deserves our recognition.

(b) While Qualifications Framework (QF) is being developed in many countries and regions worldwide, the frameworks developed are different from each other significantly, especially on the categorisation and the numbers of level of qualifications.  The Mainland has not developed its QF.  At present, there is no unified and effective system to facilitate articulation and recognition among QFs.  In Hong Kong, the QF was officially launched in May 2008 and is still at its early development stage.  Our primary objective is to implement steadily the QF in the 12 industries where ITACs have been formed, so as to lay a solid foundation for the further development of QF. We will monitor closely the development of QFs in other countries and regions, and will explore in future the possibility of mutual recognition between the Hong Kong QF and the relevant systems in the Mainland and overseas.

     It is worth noting that some local training organisations, such as the Vocational Training Council, have launched pilot schemes jointly with relevant organisations in the Mainland to provide a "One Examination, Two Certificates" trade test mechanism, or through co-organised programmes with Mainland institutions, to enable trainees to obtain both Hong Kong and the Mainland awards simultaneously.

(c) All qualifications recognised under the Hong Kong QF must be academically accredited.  The focus of academic accreditation is to determine whether the course meets the academic standard of the relevant QF level.  As regards professional qualifications, they have to be accredited by the relevant professional bodies, which focus on the knowledge and skills required by the profession.  Generally speaking, professional bodies will only award professional qualification to candidates who have acquired the relevant academic qualification, e.g. a bachelor degree, plus relevant working experience of a certain duration or a pass in the professional examination.  Thus, academic accreditation under the QF and professional accreditation undertaken by professional bodies are basically two different systems, which are not appropriate for direct comparison and linkage.

Note 1: One of the ITACs has just started to draft an SCS for another functional area in the industry.

Ends/Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Issued at HKT 14:54


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