Vocational Education in Hong Kong is directed by the Vocational Training Council, which works in conjunction with the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education, the VTC School of Business and Information Systems, the Hong Kong Design Institute and the Youth College. The Council is made up of 18 non-government members including leading figures in education, industry and the service sector as well as three government officials: the Commissioner for Labour, the Director-General of Trade and Industry and the Deputy Secretary for Education. This way the government can ensure communication and policy decisions based on the actual workforce needs in each of these sectors.
In 2008, the government began providing funding for full-time vocational courses for students between the ages of 15 and 18, hoping that this would encourage students who would otherwise have dropped out of school to continue their education. These students may receive a Diploma in Vocational Education, which prepares them either for employment or further education, either at the degree or non-degree level. Once these students complete upper secondary education, they can participate in a comprehensive system of tertiary vocational education and training in place, run by the VTC and leading to a variety of diplomas and certificates.
Also in 2008, the government introduced the Qualification Framework, which was intended to “enhance the competitiveness of the workforce in Hong Kong.” The framework outlines seven levels of qualifications in academic, vocational and continuing education sectors, and programs that comply with the Qualification Framework are guaranteed by the government to have provided students with specific competencies and skills. This framework is available to students in schools as well as adults in the workforce, and allows employers and employees to set learning targets as well as providing an informal “curriculum” for students to move through the pathways. The government has several “Qualifications Framework Support Schemes,” mostly in the form of grants or registration fee subsidies, available to education and training providers who want to ensure that their programs are accredited.
The Education Bureau (EDB) funds a financial assistance scheme to help low-income adults take designated evening adult education courses. These courses allow adults to receive the equivalent of a secondary education. Other courses are provided by various universities and private institutes.