PTU News Reporter
The new government will start its operation in July. Dr. FUNG Wai-wah, President of the HKPTU, invited colleagues from the Vocational Training Council (VTC) to attend the President’s Gathering on 3 June to collect their opinions on vocational education to be reflected to the new government. Hon. IP Kin-yuen, the representative of the HKPTU in the Legislative Council, also attended the session to listen to the voice of our fellow colleagues.
The HKPTU concerns about the decrease in number of students
Dr. FUNG Wai-wah first analysed demographic trends and pointed out that the predicted number of secondary 6 graduates will decrease continuously from the 2017-18 academic year. By 2020-21, this number will be dropped by over 10%. And for the students studying vocational education courses in the VTC, the number has dropped from 58,600 in 2013-14 to 57,900 in 2015-16. The HKPTU concerns whether the decrease of the number of DSE graduates will affect the future development of vocational education.
On the other hand, the HKPTU also concerns about the situation that the VTC is employing its staff by short-term contracts. FUNG Wai-wah quoted the numbers from Legislative Council document that in 2015-16, the VTC had 509 contract teaching staff, which accounted for almost 20% of the total staff. FUNG Wai-wah pointed out that there is a lack of job security for contract-based staff. The HKPTU will continue to follow up on this issue and urge the VTC to further reduce the percentage of staff employed by short-term contract.
VTC colleague: Society needs to understand the importance of vocational training
A colleague from engineering department said that the society still had negative impression on vocational education. But as the current vocational education graduates can also have very good job prospects, it is vital for the public to understand the importance of vocational education to the society. He further explained that new infrastructure projects like new rail lines require more technical engineers to help maintaining them. A bunch of technical engineers in Hong Kong will be retiring in the coming few years, and therefore the rail company, electric companies and etc. are hiring new blood with very competitive packages. Many of his students have been promoted to senior engineers within a few years, and their salaries are comparable to those of university graduates. If Hong Kong cannot train enough technical staff on time, there will be a lack in workers for the service and maintenance of infrastructures. This will affect the reliability of the infrastructure, and will also have a negative impact to the development of Hong Kong. IP Kin-yuen replied that he was certain about the social function of vocational education, and agreed that there is a need to change the negative impression of vocational education among the public.
Government should strengthen support to SEN students
Colleagues also pointed out that in some member institutions of the VTC, there had been a number of students with SEN. Support from the government on SEN students is primarily focusing on primary and secondary schools. But for those in tertiary education, there is a lack of support. Colleagues reflected that the SEN students may sometimes have emotional or behavioral issues. If they were in primary or secondary schools, there would be social workers to counsel and look after them. But in the tertiary sector, this kind of support is not adequate. And on the other hand, teachers in tertiary education sector are not normally being trained on how to handle SEN students. Even if the teachers would like to help, they did not know where to start with. FUNG Wai-wah agreed that there is a need to strengthen the support to SEN students and teachers and will reflect that to the new government and the management of the VTC in later days.
Inviting VTC colleagues to join the 2nd round of President’s Gathering
During the President’s Gathering on June 3, colleagues gave us a lot of useful feedback. Our president FUNG Wai-wah will host another President’s Gathering in Causeway Bay Service Centre on June 24 (Saturday) from 2:00pm to 3:30pm. VTC Staff are welcome to register and join us to discuss on the future of vocational education, the positioning of the VTC and the job security.
For registration, please refer to www.hkptu.org/tea-gathering