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Speech by CS at VTC-ITE International Student Seminar 2015 opening ceremony (English only) (with photos/video)

     Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, at the opening ceremony of the VTC-ITE International Student Seminar 2015 today (June 15):

Consul General, Mr Tan (Chairman of the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), Mr Bob Tan), Clement (Chairman of the Vocational Training Council (VTC), Dr Clement Chen), distinguished speakers, distinguished guests, students, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good morning. It gives me really great pleasure to begin my week with the stirring delights of the VTC Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Dr Henry Shek, and in the company of some 600 enthusiastic young people from Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Finland and Shenzhen. I must say you all look full of promise. And why not? Over the next few days, you have much to look forward to. Speaking personally, I thank the VTC for inviting me to this wonderful occasion because I am heading for a very difficult week ahead. For our friends in Hong Kong, they will know that we are having a historic moment in Hong Kong this week when our Legislative Council will vote on a very important proposal from the Government to give "one person, one vote" to the 5 million (eligible) voters in Hong Kong, so it's great to start a week with all this energy, vigour, hope and promise of some good things coming out of it.

     The VTC-ITE International Student Seminar is a biennial event, the location alternating between the two organisers: the Hong Kong Vocational Training Council, and the Singapore Institute of Technical Education.

     The two are the largest vocational education and training institutions in their respective communities. On behalf of the Hong Kong SAR Government, I'd just like to say how grateful we are to them - for this event, for their championing of vocational education in Hong Kong and Singapore, and for fostering exchanges between the two places.

     Over the next two-and-a-half days, you will have the exceptional opportunity to exchange views on global, community and family issues with international counterparts - like-minded and, perhaps, not so like-minded. I know you will take full advantage of this splendid gathering.

     Today, some people may still be biased towards conventional academic pursuits and against vocational education. Some may even equate conventional academic studies with the word "knowledge."

     But, of course, knowledge is by no means confined to theories and principles. It also embraces technical education and skills gained through specialised training. And if an economy is to grow, in a sustainable and balanced way, we must highlight the many and varied contributions of vocational education and training. We must do so by nurturing future achievers like all of you here this morning.

     Indeed, professionals who possess practical skills are in great demand by corporations, helping them stay a step ahead of their competitors. But beyond the purely economic activities and motive, I believe that youth must be given full opportunity to develop their potential.

     Today, we can be thankful that vocational education is no longer repetitive training of workers in a sub-optimal environment. Just take a look at this award-winning campus, quality facilities and the team of dedicated staff. And talking about campuses, I should just thank Bruce (Director and CEO of ITE, Mr Bruce Poh) for taking me round the ITE campus during my official trip to Singapore two years ago. It was really very impressive.

     Vocational education and training nowadays does not only equip students with necessary skills and knowledge. It puts equal emphasis on the whole-person development of students, exposing them to a wide spectrum of learning experiences. This inspired international seminar is a very good example of that.

     Through education, employment and whole-person development, a culture of multi-faceted excellence is fostered. We provide young people with diversified learning, training and development opportunities that match their abilities, aspirations and education levels. Vocational education and training is, therefore, an integral part of the education system. It has the full support of the Hong Kong SAR Government, as a series of recent initiatives makes clear.

     As mentioned by our Chief Executive in his 2014 Policy Address, the Government will implement measures to help young people with life planning and to strengthen vocational education. Among various measures, the Pilot Training and Support Scheme was launched with government and industry support. It was designed to integrate apprenticeship training with clear progress pathways. We have also begun to allocate recurrent funding to the VTC. This provides industrial attachment opportunities for some 9,000 students a year.

     In addition, the Government has set up the Task Force on Promotion of Vocational Education. It will formulate the necessary strategies and concrete measures to help us promote vocational education in the community as a valued choice for young people. The Task Force report will be published very soon, and I am confident that it will mark a new beginning in Hong Kong's vocational education and training.

     This year, the main theme of the seminar is "Social Innovation". We need innovative ways to keep this city growing as a successful community and to bring opportunities to those in need. In this regard, the Government has launched the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund in 2013 to facilitate cross-sector collaboration and sharing of knowledge and experience to nurture social innovation and entrepreneurship for poverty alleviation. And to boost the city's competitiveness and innovation, the Government planned to set up the Innovation and Technology Bureau and we are now seeking the Legislative Council's funding approval for that. We are also carrying out feasibility study to turn an area called Kowloon East, not too far away from Tseung Kwan O here, into a sustainable CBD, in line with the vision of "Smart City", by making use of smart data and technology, creating a low-carbon green community, promoting green building, etc, with a view to making the area a better place for people. All these initiatives require innovative minds to support their development, and I am sure today's seminar will help spark new ideas and ignite innovations. You can be innovators or young entrepreneurs to make our society a better place too.

     I know you will enjoy this seminar, that it will help you develop your communication, co-operation and problem-solving skills. That you will take home with you innovative ideas, the motivation to shape them and the friendships that Mr Tan has talked about, forged over these three days, to carry them forward.

     In the end, we will all be the beneficiaries.

     Thank you very much.

Ends/Monday, June 15, 2015
Issued at HKT 12:11


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