Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article
LCQ22: Qualifications Framework

     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 (July 10):


     The Government launched the Qualifications Framework (QF) in 2008, under which a Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) mechanism was set up. Under RPL mechanism, there is a five-year transitional period for each participating industry during which applicants 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. On March 14 this year, together with the trade union representatives of various Industry Training Advisory Committees (ITACs) under QF, I had a meeting with the Deputy Secretary for Education to reflect the views of the trade unions on QF and to strive for the extension of the transitional period by five years. Recently, the Education Bureau has decided to extend the transitional period for three industries, namely Printing & Publishing, Watch & Clock and Hairdressing, by two years. Quite a number of trade unions have relayed their concerns to me that there is not enough time for them to motivate employees to apply for RPL within a short span of two years. The trade unions have also pointed out that in recent years, some training providers have launched QF-related training courses when ITACs have yet to be established, Specifications of Competency Standards drawn up and RPL mechanisms implemented for the industries concerned. They are concerned that taking such courses will turn out to be the only channel through which employees can acquire recognition of qualifications for certain specific industries or posts, thereby posing serious threats to the job security and livelihood protection of serving employees. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether the Education Bureau has new measures to motivate employees of the Printing & Publishing, Watch & Clock and Hairdressing industries to actively apply for RPL, in particular how it will enhance its cooperation with both the employers and the employees;

(b) of the current number of QF-related training courses which have been launched when ITACs have yet to be established, Specifications of Competency Standards drawn up and RPL mechanisms implemented for the industries concerned; the industries and posts associated with such courses respectively; how the Education Bureau ensures that such courses can satisfy the needs of the industries; the channels through which employees can attain the same level of recognised qualifications apart from taking the relevant courses; and

(c) whether the Education Bureau will, pursuant to the arrangement of extending the transitional period by two years, conduct a large scale interim review of QF, and comprehensively consult the public, in particular the employers and employees of the industries concerned, on the implementation of QF; 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. Our QF is a seven-level hierarchy covering qualifications in the academic, vocational as well as continuing education 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. To ensure its acceptance, RPL mechanism is developed based on the Specification of Competency Standards (SCSs) formulated by individual industries. At present, the RPL mechanism has been implemented in eight industries.

     There is a five-year transitional period for each of the industries implementing the RPL mechanism. During this period, practitioners may apply for recognition of qualifications at QF Levels 1 to 3 by producing documentary proof of their relevant working experience, without having to take any formal assessment tests. Upon expiry of the transitional period, practitioners seeking recognition of qualifications at QF Levels 1 to 4 are all subject to assessment. The purpose of assessment is to enhance the credibility and acceptance of qualifications recognised under the RPL mechanism.

     The five-year transitional period for the first batch of industries implementing the RPL mechanism, namely Printing & Publishing, Watch & Clock, and Hairdressing, expired on May 31, 2013. Upon careful deliberations, the Industry Training Advisory Committees (ITACs) concerned decided to extend the transitional period for these industries for another two years to May 31, 2015. Widely represented, ITACs consist of various stakeholders of the relevant industry, including representatives from labour unions, trade associations and professional bodies, etc.

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

(a) The ITACs of the Printing & Publishing, Watch & Clock, and Hairdressing industries have had in-depth discussions on initiatives to better publicise and promote QF and RPL mechanism, so that more practitioners will have a better understanding of the benefits of QF and RPL mechanism. The Subcommittees of these ITACs have also carefully explored the arrangements of various publicity activities.

     We have also liaised with education and training providers to encourage them to accept RPL qualifications, so as to enhance the recognition of RPL qualifications and boost the confidence and incentives for practitioners to submit applications under the RPL mechanism.

     To further promote the RPL mechanism, we plan to organise an RPL sharing session later this year. Different industries and various stakeholders will be invited to attend. Practitioners will share their insight on the benefits of seeking recognition under the RPL mechanism. In turn, industries that have already started or are about to implement the RPL mechanism and stakeholders will be encouraged to promote or put in place the RPL mechanism more actively.

     Furthermore, we will continue to collaborate with labour unions, employers and professional bodies, etc of the three industries in supporting and organising activities related to RPL mechanism (including visits, briefings and large-scale promotional events), so that various parties may join hands to promote the RPL mechanism and encourage practitioners to participate.

(b) We have so far assisted 19 industries in setting up their ITACs under QF. Twelve of these ITACs have drawn up their Specification of Competency Standards (SCSs), which facilitate the development of education and training courses and mapping out of progression pathways. As for the rest of the ITACs, drafting of SCSs is in progress.

     We encourage the development of courses based on SCSs to ensure that the course content can meet the needs of the industries better. We also encourage all education and training providers to have their academic, vocational and continuing education courses and qualifications quality-assured under QF, so that such courses and qualifications could be uploaded to the web-based Qualifications Register for public information. As at end June this year, over 7 700 valid courses and qualifications have been listed on the Register, and about 210 of them are SCS-based courses. Other courses and qualifications are not necessarily directly related to a specific industry.

     Apart from taking courses to obtain the qualifications recognised under QF, practitioners may also have their knowledge, skills and experience formally recognised under QF through the RPL mechanism. We will continue to assist industries that have already drawn up their SCSs in implementing the RPL mechanism.

(c) We have organised an international conference on March 18 and 19, 2013 to look into the roles of QF in promoting lifelong learning and talent grooming in various places of the world. Furthermore, we organised a QF Stakeholders Forum on May 29, 2013 to tap into the collective wisdom of stakeholders from various sectors on reviewing existing measures in support of the implementation of QF (including the RPL mechanism) and explore the way forward for QF. Looking ahead, apart from regularly collecting the views of various stakeholders (such as labour unions, employers, professional bodies, education and training providers, etc) through the ITACs of various industries, we plan to organise sharing sessions or focus group meetings to consult stakeholders on certain QF-related issues, including the RPL mechanism.

Ends/Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Issued at HKT 15:22


Print this page