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LCQ11: Recognition of Prior Learning mechanism

     Following is a question by the Hon Kwok Wai-keung and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim, in the Legislative Council today (November 21):


     To tie in with the Qualifications Framework (QF) implemented in 2008, the authorities concurrently implemented a five-year Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) mechanism.  Under the RPL mechanism, employees may obtain a Statement of Attainment at Levels one to three without the need to undergo any assessment simply by producing proofs of years of service and relevant experience verified by an assessment agency.  Regarding QF and the RPL mechanism, will the Government inform this Council, as at October this year:

(a) of the measures implemented by the authorities to promote employees' applications for RPL;

(b) of the total number of industries which have set up their Industry Training Advisory Committees (ITACs), the respective numbers of people employed in these industries and the respective percentages of these numbers in the total workforce in Hong Kong, and which of these ITACs have completed the task of drawing up their Specifications of Competency Standards;

(c) of the accumulated numbers of QF-related training courses that have been offered in the market, with a breakdown by industry and the level of qualification attained, and the respective percentages of these numbers in the total number of courses offered; and list the numbers and the percentages of people who have completed the courses, with a breakdown by industry and the level of qualification attained;

(d) of the number of industries which have put in place the RPL mechanism; the respective numbers of employees from these industries who have obtained qualification recognition through the RPL mechanism, with a breakdown by the level of qualification attained; and

(e) as the five-year transitional period of the RPL mechanism for the three industries of Printing and Publishing, Watch and Clock, and Hairdressing will expire in May 2013, whether it will consider extending the transitional period; if not, of the reasons for that?



     The Government launched the Qualifications Framework (QF) in 2008 to promote lifelong learning and enhance the overall quality of our workforce.  The Hong Kong QF is a seven-level hierarchy ranging from the most fundamental Level 1 to the highest Level 7, covering qualifications in the academic, vocational as well as continuing education and training sectors.  Under QF, there is a Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) mechanism to enable practitioners of various backgrounds to obtain formal recognition of the knowledge, skills and experience that they have acquired.  This mechanism facilitates practitioners with learning aspirations to identify the competencies they have acquired through experience or previous training in the industries, so that they can determine their starting point for learning and progression, and reduce duplication in training for the same skills.  To ensure its credibility, RPL mechanism is developed based on the Specification of Competency Standards (SCSs) formulated by individual industries.

     Under RPL mechanism, there is a five-year transitional period for each participating industry during which practitioners may apply for recognition of qualifications at QF Levels 1 to 3 by producing documentary proofs of their years of relevant working experience, without the need to take any formal assessment tests.  After the expiry of the transitional period, practitioners seeking recognition of qualifications at QF Levels 1 to 4 are all subject to assessment.  This is to enhance the credibility and acceptance of qualifications recognised under RPL mechanism.

     My reply to the various parts of the question is as follows:

(a) Since the implementation of QF in 2008, Government has been striving to assist industries in implementing RPL mechanism, and has rolled out a number of measures to encourage and facilitate the participation of practitioners.  These measures include:

(i) introducing a five-year transitional period as mentioned above for each participating industry under RPL mechanism in order to encourage greater participation of those practitioners who have worked their way up from the junior positions, and provide sufficient time for practitioners to adapt to and accept the mechanism;

(ii) collaborating with RPL Assessment Agency and the industries in organising briefings and promotion for stakeholders and providing them with details on the background, application procedures and assessment arrangements of RPL mechanism as well as relevant financial assistance available, so as to enhance the practitioners' understanding of the relevant information and the benefits of RPL mechanism;

(iii) enhancing the acceptance of RPL mechanism by encouraging employers, professional bodies, as well as education and training providers to recognise qualifications acquired under the mechanism so as to assist practitioners in pursuing continuous learning;

(iv) encouraging education and training providers to design and offer relevant articulation programmes in the light of the needs of practitioners, thereby assisting them in developing their careers; and

(v) enhancing the Qualifications Framework Support Schemes in August 2011 by introducing a two-stage mechanism for the reimbursement of RPL assessment fees to the practitioners.  Under this two-stage mechanism, practitioners who have successfully completed RPL assessments may immediately apply for reimbursement of 75% of the assessment fees, while the remaining 25% may be reimbursed upon completion of any QF-recognised programmes (previously, practitioners who had successfully completed RPL assessments would only receive full reimbursement of the assessment fees upon completion of any QF-recognised programmes).  The reimbursement ceiling for each practitioner has also been raised from $1,000 to $3,500.

(b) Currently, a total of 18 industries have set up their Industry Training Advisory Committees (ITACs) under QF, covering around 45% of the overall workforce of Hong Kong.  Twelve ITACs have drawn up their SCSs, whilst the drafting work of the remaining six ITACs is in progress and is expected to be completed by 2013 and 2014.  Details are set out at Annex A.

(c) As at October 2012, there were nearly 12 000 QF-recognised qualifications and their associated education and training programmes (including those still within their Registration Validity Period (RVP) and those with their RVPs expired), categorised by Primary Areas of Study/Training, listed on the Qualifications Register (QR).  The number of qualifications under each Primary Area of Study/Training and at each QF Level, as well as the percentages in the total number of qualifications, are set out at Annex B.  We do not have information on the number of people who have completed these programmes.

(d) Currently, RPL mechanism is implemented in seven industries.  Through the mechanism, almost 5 000 employees have been awarded statements of attainment, about 10 000 of which are at QF Levels 1 to 4.  A breakdown of the number of practitioners and statements of attainment by industry and QF Level is at Annex C.

(e) Printing & Publishing, Watch & Clock and Hairdressing were the three pilot industries for implementing RPL mechanism in 2008.  Since the five-year transitional period under RPL mechanism for these three industries will expire in May 2013, we are working out the post-transitional arrangements with the respective ITACs, and will consult the stakeholders of the relevant industries.

Ends/Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Issued at HKT 13:08


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