The Workplace English Campaign will launch a new round of publicity programme for 2003. The focus of this year's publicity programme emphasises the need for employees from every business and industry to enhance their English proficiency.
Speaking at a press conference today (2 June), the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research (SCOLAR), Mr Michael Tien, said, "An English-proficiency workforce is vital if we are to maintain Hong Kong's competitive edge and international status. It is the key to the recovery of our externally oriented economy."
"In Hong Kong, managerial executives, taxi drivers, frontline staff in retail and restaurant businesses, security officers and even green grocers need to use English in their workplace. Competence in English is thus important to the employees of all businesses and industries."
Last year, in addition to having international Canto-pop Miss Kelly Chen as the Campaign's ambassador, four key supporting corporations of the Campaign also threw their weight behind the Campaign's publicity programme by participating in the shooting of the TV Announcement in Public Interests (APIs). The support from the four corporations, namely Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd, The Hong Kong and China Gas Company Ltd, MTR Corporation Ltd and Wing Lung Bank Ltd, successfully helped boost the concerns of more corporations about the English standard of their workforce.
Subsequent to the very successful launch of last year's publicity programme, a new series of TV APIs was produced this year featuring beneficiaries of the Campaign and employees nominated by the Campaign's corporate supporters in a variety of workplace settings. Miss Chen, as the Campaign's ambassador, appears again in this year's TV APIs to encourage members of the local workforce to raise their standards of English by joining the Campaign's Funding Scheme.
"I am excited to be the Campaign's ambassador for the second year to help promote the Campaign and its Funding Scheme. I strongly believe that a good command of English is essential to further our position as Asia's world city. Every employee in Hong Kong should take advantage of this great opportunity offered by the Government to improve his/her English," Miss Chen said.
Mr Francis Mok, Management Training & Development Manager of MTR Corporation Ltd, and Mr Leung Kin-yiu, Head of Personnel & Training Department of Wing Lung Bank Ltd, were also present at the press conference to receive the token of thanks from SCOLAR in recognition of their valuable support of the Campaign.
Mr Tien said, "The Campaign's Funding Scheme has seen an impressive upsurge in telephone enquiries and applications since Miss Chen and our key corporate supporters rendered their support to our publicity programme last year. With Miss Chen and the strong pledge of support from further more of our corporate supporters this year, I am confident that our Campaign will enjoy another year of excellent public response."
As part of the Campaign's new round of publicity programme in 2003, the Campaign will work with RTHK again to produce a new series of TV programmes later in the year, focusing on the use of English in different workplace settings.
"The Workplace English Campaign sponsored a very successful series of 'One Minute English' produced by RTHK in 2000 and the programme was very well received. We value the opportunity to work with RTHK again this year, and hope this upcoming TV programme will help to arouse greater public's interests in learning English," said Mr Tien.
Funded by the Language Fund and launched by the Government in February 2000, the Workplace English Campaign aimed at heightening public awareness of the importance of English in the workplace and motivating the workforce to raise their English standard. The key components of the Campaign are the establishment of the Hong Kong Workplace English Benchmarks and the $50-million Funding Scheme whereby employees may apply for subsidies to attend workplace English training and specified international business English tests.
Till mid May of 2003, the Campaign's Funding Scheme has approved nearly 23 000 applications. Over 12 000 employees have successfully completed their training and passed the specified international tests. They have together received a total of $19 million from the Funding Scheme in reimbursement of course fees and test fees. Another 8 000 employees are either undergoing training or their applications for reimbursement are being processed.