CS continues visit to Europe (with photos)

     The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, began her visit in Berlin, Germany, on May 20 (Berlin time) after her visit in Vienna, Austria. She called on senior officials, visited cultural organisations, received a briefing on vocational education, visited heritage projects and officiated at a Gala Dinner.

     In the morning, Mrs Lam attended a briefing by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Berlin on the vocational education and training system in Germany.

     "Human capital is an important asset that will underpin our economic growth. The Chief Executive in his 2014 Policy Address laid out the strategy for nurturing talents with a stronger emphasis on vocational training and greater collaboration with industry in terms of apprenticeships and training programmes. There is much for us to learn from the success of Germany's dual system for vocational education and training," Mrs Lam said at the briefing.

     Mrs Lam met with the President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, Dr Hermann Parzinger, to learn about their experience in the administration of museums and explore co-operation opportunities between museums in Hong Kong and Germany.

     Mrs Lam then called on the Mayor of Berlin and Senator for Urban Development and the Environment, Mr Michael Müller. During the meeting, Mrs Lam and the Mayor exchanged views on environmental protection as well as heritage conservation.

     In the afternoon, Mrs Lam had a meeting with the State Secretary of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Dr Emily Haber, on Germany's overall strategy in tackling demographic developments such as an ageing population. During the meeting, Mrs Lam shared with Dr Haber the acute demographic challenges faced by Hong Kong, including a low fertility rate, an ageing population and a dwindling labour force.

     "The experience of Germany, as a well-developed economy, in facing demographic challenges would be a useful reference for us in mapping out our population policy blueprint," Mrs Lam said.

     Mrs Lam also referred to the huge success of the Working Holiday Scheme with Germany which came into effect in 2009. The annual German quota of 150 every year has been fully taken up by young people and in January 2014 the Hong Kong Labour Department proposed to their German counterparts that the reciprocal quotas be increased.

     At the meeting, Mrs Lam also witnessed the signing ceremony of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the mutual use of automated immigration clearance service between Hong Kong and Germany. Deputy Director of Immigration, Mr Erick Tsang, represented the Hong Kong side to sign the MoU.

     Mrs Lam then visited two heritage conservation projects, the State Opera and the National Library, to learn from the experience of Berlin in rehabilitating and revitalising heritage buildings.

     In the evening, Mrs Lam officiated and delivered a speech at the Gala Dinner organised by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Berlin. In her keynote speech, Mrs Lam updated over 200 guests on the latest economic and social developments in Hong Kong. Prior to the dinner, she had a short meeting with the President of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Dr Eric Schweitzer, to exchange views on business opportunities in Hong Kong for German businesses.

     Mrs Lam will continue her visit in Berlin tomorrow (May 21, Berlin time). She will visit heritage projects, meet with senior officials and officiate at the Opening Night of the Hong Kong Film Festival.

Ends/Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Issued at HKT 01:35