The Secretary for Education and Manpower, Mr Joseph W. P. Wong, announced today (9 September) the establishment of the Steering Committee on the English in the Workplace Campaign.
The Steering Committee will advise the Government on all aspects of the planning, organisation and implementation of the English in the Workplace Campaign with a view to heightening awareness of the importance of English and raising the standard of workplace English in the community.
The Steering Committee will be working in collaboration with the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research (SCOLAR), which has earmarked around a total of $62 million to support the Campaign.
"To maintain Hong Kong's competitive edge as an international centre of business, finance and tourism, our workforce must maintain a high standard of English. The year-long Campaign, expected to commence in January 2000, seeks to heighten the community's overall awareness of the importance of English at work, and of the need to maintain a high level of bilingualism in our society," said Mr Wong.
The major elements of the Campaign will comprise a $50 million Incentive Grants Scheme to fund English Language training programmes for employees; the promotion of workplace English competency benchmarks; a business-school collaboration programme; and a series of publicity programmes and events aimed at various sectors of the community.
Mr Michael Tien, Chairman of the G2000 Group, has been appointed to head the Steering Committee.
Ten members have also been appointed to the Steering Committee in their personal capacities:
- Mr Michael CHAN, Chairman, Cafe de Coral Holdings Limited
- Mr Anthony CHOW, practising solicitor and President of the Law Society of Hong Kong
- Mr Danny LAU, Executive Director, Li & Fung Limited
- Mr Desmond LAUDER, Director, British Council
- Mr Frank MARTIN, President, American Chamber of Commerce
- Ms Virginia NG, Managing Director, DIYR Communications Ltd
- Mr Graham SORAH, Operations Director, Marks and Spencer (Hong Kong) Ltd
- Mr Tony TAI, General Manager, IBM China/Hong Kong Ltd
- Mr Larry M K TCHOU, Senior Vice President & Managing Director, Hyatt International - Asia Pacific, Ltd
- Dr Eden WOON, Director, HK General Chamber of Commerce
Deputy Secretary for Education and Manpower, Mr Raymond YOUNG, will serve as an ex-officio member.
The Steering Committee will hold its first meeting in October to discuss the planning and implementation of the Campaign in greater detail. In the meantime, the Education and Manpower Bureau and SCOLAR have been proceeding with the groundwork for the Campaign.
At their meeting today, SCOLAR gave full support for the Campaign and endorsed earmarking $12 million from the Language Fund to fund the Campaign's programmes.
In addition, SCOLAR has endorsed an allocation of $50 million from the Language Fund to launch an Incentive Grants Scheme in the context of the Campaign to support employees' English language training programmes. SCOLAR has also established a task group to work out the details of the Incentive Grants Scheme and the workplace English competency benchmarks.
"I would like to thank SCOLAR Members for their support of the Campaign and their commitment to raising the community's English language proficiency, especially in the workplace," said Mr Wong.
"I would also like to thank the Chairman and Members of the Steering Committee for undertaking this very important and meaningful task. I am confident that the Campaign will successfully heighten our community's awareness of the importance of English as a working language."
"We look to the business and professional sectors as well as the community at large for their full support and participation," Mr Wong added.