The Steering Committee on the Workplace English Campaign will conduct a pilot test in December 1999 to establish preliminary benchmarks for workplace English standards of the Hong Kong workforce.
About 2 000 employees in four different job types – clerks, secretaries, receptionists/telephone operators and front-lines service personnel – are expected to participate in the pilot test. Results will be announced in February 2000.
"The pilot test is the first step of the benchmarking exercise whereby benchmarks will be established to reflect the standard of English required of employees in different occupations and sectors," said Mr Michael Tien, Chairman of the Steering Committee after a meeting of the Committee today (26 November).
"Benchmarking is an effective step towards promoting English competency in the workplace. The defined benchmarks will provide pointers for both employers and employees to improve the English language competency of the workforce," added Mr Tien.
A website for the Campaign (http://www.english.gov.hk) has been set up. Members of the public can now get information about the Campaign and the benchmarking exercise from the website.
Meanwhile, a specially designed calendar "Say it in English" is being produced and will be distributed to over 35 000 taxi-drivers in December. The calendar, which is a collaboration between the Steering Committee and the Hong Kong Tourist Association, features short, useful English phrases for taxi-drivers for easy communication with English-speaking passengers.
Another core component of Campaign is the Business and Schools Partnership Programme which aims at fostering a closer relation between the business and school sectors for the learning of English. The Education Department and the Business Coalition on Education are responsible for leading this Partnership Programme.
"Business firms are being invited to take an active role in the language education of our future workforce by participating in different partnership schemes with schools, such as exchange visits and workplace attachment programmes," said Mr Tien.
"Hong Kong employers do care about the standard of English of their employees, as we all recognise that a high standard of English is the key to maintaining Hong Kong's competitive edge as an international centre for business, finance and tourism," he stressed.
A launching ceremony for the Campaign has been planned for February 2000. It will include a series of activities, including television and radio programmes, trade seminars, competitions and Internet games on workplace English. Details of the funding scheme for workplace English training will be announced when the Campaign is launched.