Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan attempts to prepare for making a piece of clothing under the guidance of students from the Hong Kong Design Institute, Tiu Keng Leng, Hong Kong. (PHOTO TAKEN FROM FINANCIAL SECRETARY PAUL CHAN'S BLOG)

The government continues to double down on furnishing youth with vocational training opportunities and on funneling more resources into cultural and creative programs to boost the industry in the city, remarked Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po in his blog on Sunday.

Inspired by his visit on Saturday to the Hong Kong Design Institute in Tiu Keng Leng under the Vocational Training Council (VTC), where he went to gain some insight into students’ learning process, Chan said in his blog, “To produce a garment, no matter how creative the design concept is, the understanding and mastery of the practical know-how is the most fundamental component: to do the makeup for a client, regardless of the stylishness of the makeup artist’s idea, the solid basic skills and being attuned to the customer’s traits and needs are the prerequisite for mutual trust. These all speak to the importance of textbook theory and practice in equal measure.”

Over the past few years, Chan has set aside handsome funds in his budgets to subsidize various cultural and arts organizations for exchanges in the Greater Bay Area and abroad

In the past, to grasp both theoretical knowledge and practical experience, apprenticeships were the only recourse. But today, more diversified and comprehensive vocational education is available to cultivate vocational talents for all disciplines and industries, Chan said in his blog, adding that he was delighted to see the students at the design institute have equipped themselves with both theoretical and practical learning.

In addition to traditional classroom learning, their daily study routines also involve laboratory workshops, which inspire novel thinking and creativity at different and deeper levels and which moderate the learning curve and lead to more fun through interactions, he said.

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“In the past few years, the government has persistently pumped up our resources for vocational and technical education. For example, in the 2023/24 Budget, we’ve launched a two-year pilot program enabling secondary school students to have early exposure to VPET and helping them explore their interests.”

The government will launch the Diploma of Applied Education program on a regular basis in the same academic year in place of the existing Diploma Yi Jin program, and will continue to review the implementation of the Pilot Project on the Development of Applied Degree Programmes and proactively explore the launch of more programs, so as to further enhance the VPET progression pathway at the post‑secondary education level.

“The SAR government has been committed to promoting the development of cultural and creative industries. As at the end of September last year, the CreativeSmart Initiative launched in 2009 had allocated nearly HK$2.3 billion ($293 million) to subsidize some 650 projects organized by the industry both locally and overseas. Some 13,000 SMEs have benefited, creating nearly 30,000 jobs and over 80,000 training opportunities,” Chan said.

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In the new budget, he continued, “I have injected another HK$500 million into the CreativeSmart Initiative to incentivize more cross-disciplinary and cross-industry creative and cultural cooperation.” The replenished initiative is also intended to support local television stations to jointly produce variety television programs with their counterparts on the Chinese mainland and in Asia to extend the reach of Hong Kong’s pop culture. The initiative is also meant to fund flagship activities and incubation programs of the Hong Kong Design Centre and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, he added.

Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan takes a group photo with one class of students at the Hong Kong Design Insitute in Tiu Keng Leng, Hong Kong, all making a "heart" sign with their hands. (PHOTO TAKEN FROM FINANCIAL SECRETARY PAUL CHAN'S BLOG)

Over the past few years, Chan has set aside handsome funds in his budgets to subsidize various cultural and arts organizations for exchanges in the Greater Bay Area and abroad.

“As we have fully restored the easy communication with the mainland thanks to border reopening and the international community, I’m convinced more cross-boundary and cross-regional exchanges and cooperation will create more opportunities for the cultural and creative industry,” concluded Chan.