Earn while you learn

China Daily (Canada) - - HONG KONG -

Iron­i­cally the city still lacks man­power at a time when many young peo­ple are out of work. Ex­perts in the field want the gov­ern­ment to fine­tune the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and take a se­ri­ous look at what the city really needs, if it wants to achieve its goal of be­com­ing an in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tional hub.

“What Hong Kong needs is to help those who don’t get a de­gree. The mi­nor­ity who en­tered the la­bor mar­ket af­ter sec­ondary school fared even worse. Those who get sub­de­gree qual­i­fi­ca­tions with­out any pro­fes­sional or tech­ni­cal train­ing may not do very well,” said Stephan Chiu, co-di­rec­tor of the Hong Kong In­sti­tute of Asi­aPa­cific Stud­ies at the Chi­nese Univer­sity of Hong Kong.

Vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion has helped some find their ca­reer path, like 19-year-old Ho Chunghong who is tak­ing a Foun­da­tion Diploma. Ho is work­ing on the Earn and Learn Pi­lot Scheme for the Re­tail In­dus­try pro­vided by the Vo­ca­tional Train­ing Coun­cil.

“A univer­sity diploma is not the key to ev­ery­thing. The most im­por­tant thing is to know what suits you and ac­quire the skills in that area,” said Ho.

He is get­ting prac­ti­cal lessons in Chi­nese, English and Math­e­mat­ics and re­tail-re­lated cour­ses as part of the vo­ca­tional train­ing pro­gram. In the mean­time, he is on an in­tern­ship at a watch shop, earn­ing HK$5,000 a month. He gets a stipend of HK$2,000, which is sub­si­dized by the gov­ern­ment. His em­ployer cov­ers most of his tu­ition, so the cost to him for his post-sec­ondary stud­ies amount to only about HK$400 a month.

“I have an ad­van­tage of re­al­time work ex­pe­ri­ence, which is im­por­tant for a sales­per­son. I have ac­quired spe­cific knowl­edge about re­tail­ing in class, for ex­am­ple, how to main­tain dif­fer­ent prod­ucts and in­tro­duce them to dif­fer­ent cus­tomers. The most im­por­tant part is that I like talk­ing to peo­ple,” said Ho, con­fi­dently. “By the time I’m 30, with my skills and ex­pe­ri­ence, I be­lieve I can earn my­self a good man­age­ment-level po­si­tion in re­tail­ing.”

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