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Preferred Graduate Development Programme Appreciation Ceremony

4 January 2007
Jockey Club Auditorium, PolyU

Address by Dr Alice Lam,
Chairman, University Grants Committee

Prof Poon, Distinguished participants,

It gives me great pleasure in joining you at this special occasion of the Preferred Graduate Development Programme Appreciation Ceremony. This event offers an excellent opportunity for the valuable exchange among academia, students, employers and alumni on their respective views and expectations of this highly successful and popular programme. Engagement with employers is critical to every aspect of the work of the educational community. But it is perhaps particularly important at this time.

Recently, the Wall Street Journal looked toward the business environment in the coming years and concluded, in their words, "It's a whole new world." Indeed, it will be. Competition from many places in the world is rapidly changing the way we educate the next generation, and the way we do business. I am sure you see this in your own careers and businesses, where you must be aware of decisions and events in Beijing, New York, Brussels and elsewhere.

Globalization has accelerated changes. In the past, graduates competed with job seekers in their community only. Now, our graduates must compete globally. We have entered a new age: Hong Kong in the 21st century is now a service economy dependent on technology, innovation, information and technical skills. Our knowledge workers must be well-educated - not only in the narrow sense of attending classes and scoring well in exams - but also in broadening their horizons, building up personal networks and obtaining life experiences.

Everybody, our students in particular, need to equip ourselves better than ever. PolyU's Preferred Graduates Development Programme is an excellent way for students to taste the real world. These partnerships are good for learners because they introduce young people to the world of real work. They get young people thinking about their identity, their place in the world and their future. Employers offer an expertise and a perspective that cannot be taught in any classroom. Students add practical experience to their academic knowledge; they enjoy a rewarding cultural experience, both commercial and social; and they develop and improve their English and Chinese language skills. It is very encouraging that the programme has expanded to areas outside Hong Kong.

And I must thank all the forward-thinking employers who have invested time, energy and a good deal of personal enthusiasm in making this programme work so well. You show you understand that investment in education and skills is not just an optional extra - it is a pre-requisite for successful competitive businesses operating in a global economy. We want to continue to work with you:

  • to raise standards in education;
  • to develop the skills of our students and importantly;
  • to play an active part in shaping the workforce of the future.

This Programme helps to ensure that the workforces of today and tomorrow develop the skills which business needs to be competitive in the global market.

Today's event is saying that our higher education institutions want a genuine, long-term partnership with business, and it is a celebration of great work already done, by PolyU, its students, and the partner companies. The partnership between institutions and the business community will drive our priorities for years to come.

Thank you.

UGC Secretariat