Following is a question by the Hon Charles Peter Mok and a written reply by the Secretary for Innovation and Technology, Mr Nicholas W Yang, in the Legislative Council today (May 25):
Some members of the information and technology (IT) industry have relayed to me that IT talents in Hong Kong are in short supply, and the support given to IT practitioners for upgrading their professional skills is also inadequate. In addition, the relevant professional qualifications of them are not well recognised. All these have hindered the development of IT manpower resources in Hong Kong. They have also pointed out that if such a situation remains unimproved in the long run, Hong Kong’s competiveness will be undermined. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the respective numbers of (i) places of IT related courses and (ii) graduates from such courses, offered by each of the institutions funded by the University Grants Committees (UGC-funded institutions) in each of the past three years (set out in a table);
(2) whether it has any plan to conduct, in the coming three years, comprehensive studies on the medium and long term demand for IT manpower resources in Hong Kong, with a view to formulating a policy to resolve the shortage of IT talents;
(3) of the number of people who applied, in each of the past three years, to the Continuing Education Fund for reimbursement of tuition fees after completing courses on information and communications technology (ICT), with a breakdown by the institution which offered the course and by course title; whether it has any plan to collaborate with the IT industry in conducting regular reviews to see if the scopes and contents of the ICT courses covered by the Fund meet the needs of the industry; if it does, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(4) given that the authorities plan to arrange internship for Secondary Six students of enriched IT classes starting from the 2017-2018 school year, and encourage technology companies to offer internship positions and other support, whether the authorities will consider arranging similar internship opportunities for the students of the IT courses offered by UGC-funded institutions; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(5) of the new policies and measures to be put in place to attract local IT talents to stay in Hong Kong for their career development; whether it has any plan to help local practitioners to upgrade their skills in technology areas which are much in demand, so as to strengthen their competiveness; if it does, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(6) given that the Government indicated earlier that members of the ICT industry and members of the public had not yet reached a consensus on the implementation details of the proposed unified framework for professional recognition for the industry, whether the authorities have any plan to consult the industry again on this matter; if they do, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Having consulted the relevant policy bureaux and departments, our reply to the six parts of the question is as follows:
(1) Based on the information provided by the Education Bureau, the information on the information technology (IT) related courses funded by the University Grants Committee from 2012-13 to 2015-16 school years is set out in Annex.
(3) Based on the information provided by the Labour and Welfare Bureau, courses which are at present reimbursable under the Continuing Education Fund (CEF) include those falling within the eight specified domains and those designed in accordance with the Specification of Competency Standards (SCSs) drawn up by the respective Industry Training Advisory Committees under the Qualifications Framework.
A number of information and communications technology (ICT) related courses are found in the eight specified domains (i.e. business services, financial services, logistics, tourism, creative industries, design, languages, as well as interpersonal and intrapersonal skills for the workplace). However, the Government has not specifically collected statistics under the category of ICT courses.
Among the courses designed based on SCSs, four of them are ICT-related. In the past three years (i.e. from 2013-14 to 2015-16), the Office of CEF received one application for studying the relevant course, namely “Professional Certificate in IT Management” organised by the Hong Kong Productivity Council.
The Government will conduct a review on CEF (including course domains) within this year.
(2), (4) and (5) The Government has been encouraging young people to enter the field of IT through different initiatives, and attracting IT talents to stay in Hong Kong through enhancing the image of the IT sector.
The Government has launched the eight-year Enriched IT Programme in Secondary Schools starting from the 2015-16 school year. Under the collaboration among the Government, schools, tertiary institutions and the industry, eight partner schools would run Enriched IT Classes to provide in-depth IT training for students with interest and talents in IT.
In terms of increasing internship opportunities, the Government plans to expand the Internship Programme under the Innovation and Technology Fund in 2016-17. It is anticipated that the expanded programme would incur an additional expenditure of about $240 million every year in supporting some 1 000 additional interns to take part in R&D work, a number of which are internship opportunities in IT research areas. In addition, Cyberport has organised a series of internship programmes for students majored in ICT to work in ICT companies in Shanghai, Fuzhou and Silicon Valley for six to 12 weeks. Cyberport has also arranged for students to work in start-ups in the Cyberport community to instil in them the interest and enthusiasm for entrepreneurship. Furthermore, Cyberport, in collaboration with the Hospital Authority, launched the three-year eHealth Record Internship Programme in 2014-15 for graduates in ICT and healthcare-related disciplines from local tertiary institutions to participate in electronic health record projects or take part in electronic health record-related work.
In order to facilitate local industry practitioners to improve their ICT knowledge, Cyberport organises various types of ICT activities, including seminars and training sessions, for ICT practitioners every year. In 2015-16, Cyberport organised or supported over 150 events including those on popular ICT areas, such as “Blockchain Workshop”, “FinTech O-2-O Meetup”, and “2015 FinTech Innovation Lab – Asia Pacific Investor Day”, etc. These events attracted a total attendance of 17 000 ICT practitioners.
In terms of enhancing the image of the IT sector, we recognise outstanding local ICT inventions and applications through the Hong Kong ICT Awards. We introduced a new Best FinTech Award this year at the 10th Hong Kong ICT Awards to foster the development of Hong Kong as an innovative financial technology (FinTech) centre. We also organised the fourth International IT Fest in April this year, including the inaugural Internet Economy Summit, to showcase the rapid development of various ICT areas in Hong Kong, with a view to enhancing industry cohesion and promoting its professional image.
We will continue to work closely with the industry, and make reference to relevant statistics and information of the IT sector, including the IT manpower survey conducted by the Committee on Information Technology Training and Development of the Vocational Training Council, to formulate relevant measures on IT manpower resources.
(6) The Government established the Task Force on ICT Professional Development and Recognition in November 2012 under the Digital 21 Strategy Advisory Committee to study the establishment of a unified framework for ICT professional recognition in Hong Kong. The Task Force completed a report in mid-2015 to recommend the way forward. The report was also published on the website of the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer in September 2015. The report pointed out that as the industry and the public had not yet reached a general consensus on some implementation details of the unified framework for ICT professional recognition, it would be difficult to implement the framework. Therefore, at present, the Government does not have plans to consult the industry again on the unified framework for ICT professional recognition. Nonetheless, with reference to the recommendations in the report, the Government will continue to facilitate local ICT professional development through different measures including:
(a) implementing the Enriched IT Programme in Secondary Schools to cultivate ICT talents;
(b) funding ICT professional development initiatives through various existing funding schemes;
(c) encouraging government IT staff to attain relevant ICT professional qualifications;
(d) collaborating with other stakeholders to develop and update the SCSs for the ICT industry under the Qualifications Framework; and
(e) encouraging qualifications awarding bodies to continue to explore cross recognition of professional qualification schemes between Hong Kong and the Mainland and other jurisdictions.
Ends/Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Issued at HKT 16:17