Generation 40s – 四十世代

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鼓勵職業教育須先確立其地位

信報財經新聞
時事評論
2016-04-30

劉百川

4月是中學文憑考試的月份。每年約7萬名考生中,能進入政府資助的大學修讀學士課程者,約有1.7萬多人。除此之外,繼續進修的途徑主要是自資學士學位課程、副學士學位課程、高級文憑(資助或自資)。從選擇修讀這些課程的人數,可以窺見學生對前途的看法。

過去10年間(2005/06至2014/15),自資學士學位年年增加,修讀的總人數從3000多人增至3.7萬多人,上升逾十倍;同期,修讀着重專業知識和技能的自資高級文憑卻只上升約19%,總數不足2萬人。很明顯,大部分學生看重大學學位,輕視職業專才教育。

老一輩的中國人有「惟有讀書高」的想法,認為讀大學是必然選擇,讀職業課程,只是無可奈何的退路;同樣,很多年輕人也不了解攻讀職業課程,不但可以獲得專業文憑,在不少範疇,最終更可以銜接相當於學士學位或更高的資歷。

時至今日,各行各業都變得專業化,有專業知識和技能背景的大學學位持有人,更能在社會上取得優勢。

職業教育海闊天空

其實,走職業專才教育路而達致成功的例子比比皆是。香港的時裝設計在世界時裝界名頭響噹噹,而把香港時裝推上國際舞台的,除了一些在外國學成歸來的設計師之外,也包括七八十年代冒出頭來的年輕一輩,例如馬偉明、張路路、Pacino Wan(尹泰尉)、Vivienne Tam(譚燕玉)等。這些本土出身的時裝先驅,就是當年香港時裝設計學院或香港理工學院的畢業生。

從事其他行業的,在筆者的年輕朋友中,有女孩子完成酒店管理高級文憑,然後一邊工作、一邊遙距攻讀英國大學的銜接課程而獲得學士學位,現正擔任酒店行政人員;也有修讀電腦遊戲開發高級文憑課程的電腦迷,自己創業編寫遊戲程式,生意還蠻不錯的。

不過,對香港多數中學畢業生來說,報讀高級文憑卻不是首選。《推廣職業教育專責小組》報告指出, 持份者「普遍認為職業專才教育遜於大學教育,而這種根深柢固的觀感在家長及年輕人間尤甚。」

要從根本上改變社會對職業教育的看法,必須讓人看得見其地位和價值。因此,職業培訓的資歷須清晰地與學術資歷對應、其資歷須獲相關行業接受為入職或晉升的優先條件。只有這樣,職業教育的地位和價值才能體現。

特區政府於2008年設立資歷架構,涵蓋學術教育與職業教育的資歷在架構中的級別,兩者有了對應的關係。然而,對應的關係並不清晰明確。

釐清資歷架構名銜

在資歷架構上,學術教育的資歷名銜級別十分清晰:副學士、學士、碩士、博士分別是四至七級,但是職業教育的資歷名銜卻令人有眼花繚亂的感覺,計有:基礎證書、證書、文憑、高等文憑、專業文憑、高級文憑、深造文憑等等,而大部分資歷沒有一個清晰的界線,同一名銜,可以橫跨數個級別。

這樣富彈性的資歷名銜不但容易引起混淆,也無助於這些資歷在市場上建立應有的地位。打開招聘廣告,可以看見對職業資歷的要求一律是籠統的某某行業的證書或文憑,並沒有指定哪種證書或文憑,更沒有指定資歷級別。可見業界對資歷架構並不熟悉,也未視之為專業技能水平的可靠指標。

《推廣職業教育專責小組》建議鼓勵中學多提供應用學習課程,而且須安排這些課程與資歷架構掛鈎。可是,目前應用學習科目在中學文憑證書上的資料處理卻是令人沮喪的。這些科目的成績在文憑試證書上只有「達標」和「達標並表現優異」兩個等級,其水平與一般高中科目的相比,更矮了半截,叫人如何不看低職業培訓?

加強在中學階段的應用學習科目,讓學生及早開始接觸基本的職業培訓,能啟發學生對生涯規劃的探討,增加學生對職業專才教育的興趣,但現時的做法未能提升社會對職業培訓的重視,遑論鼓勵學生將之視為前途選擇之一。

職訓局於2014/15年推出「職業教育和就業支援先導計劃」,對象主要是中三至中五離校生,在4年訓練期內,第一年就讀全日制基礎課程,其餘3年是兼讀課程與實習並行的培訓,讓學生從實習中學習行業中的專業技能。至2015年9月,參與的行業只有建造業下的機電業、印刷業、鐘錶業、汽車業和檢測及認證業等5個。

先獲業界積極支持

雖然先導計劃有助企業栽培技術優良的骨幹員工,但在學員實習期內大部分薪酬由僱主承擔,培訓一個學員須支付逾30萬元(約為學員期內所獲得總薪津的八成),沒有長遠發展計劃的公司,恐怕難以承擔;而政府除了負擔課程的經費之外,也支付約7萬多元的津貼。

可以看到,參加計劃的都是有相當高技術要求、但人手極缺的行業;而且這些技術範疇在現有的已審核職業教育課程中是較罕見或是根本沒有的。這計劃在一定程度上填補了職業培訓的缺口。

然而,職業教育應該是長遠的計劃,而非在人手短缺時才匆匆湊合。我們應該深思是否因為年輕人不願意入行,所以院校無法開辦這些課程?而年輕人不願意入行,又是否只是覺得這些行業在香港行頭太窄,就業機會受到限制?這似乎也與香港的經濟活動範圍狹窄、工種不夠多元化有關。

做好職業教育,提高年輕人投入職業教育的興趣,不但為年輕人開展多元的前途規劃,也提高年輕人投入職場的積極性。

德國著名的雙軌制培訓與實習並行,業界積極參與,中學生進入職業培訓比例達60%;整個職業教育體制有完善的進階路徑和清晰的資歷架構,被視為邁向專業人士資格的階梯,備受社會尊重,值得我們參考。

劉百川_持續智庫

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Sustainable solutions enable China’s rapid urbanisation without disastrous environmental side effects

South China Morning Post
News›China›Society
2015-08-12

Bloomberg

Sustainable solutions can enable rapid urbanisation without disastrous environmental side effects

Back in 2013, a Chinese communist leader quietly toured the urban environs of Chicago and New York, an experience that transformed his thinking about city design.

Zhang Jifu, then party secretary for the district of Pinggu, was impressed by Chicago’s lakefront, with its winding bike paths and general hustle and bustle. He was also struck by how a dense urban environment like New York still had parks, gardens and outdoor cafes scattered throughout the city.

Zhang had attended a two-week course in the United States arranged by former US Treasury secretary Henry Paulson’s brainchild, Paulson Institute. On returning to Pinggu, about 90 minutes’ drive from Beijing, Zhang ripped up the basic government-sanctioned blueprint for the way China builds cities.

“In the past we were after bigger and faster stuff and we built wide roads and large communities and these were actually contrary to the urban sustainability concept,” said Zhang, who has been made mayor of the larger city of Datong in Shanxi province, according to an August 5 statement. “After my training in Chicago and New York, I learned the importance of developing compact cities.”

Influencing the way China’s leaders think was among key goals Paulson wanted to achieve in 2011, when he set up his non-profit institute, focused on economic and environmental challenges in China and the US. With 100 million people set to move into China’s cities by 2020 and the nation adding 2 billion square metres of floor space in new buildings each year, efficiency of urbanisation is central to averting environmental catastrophe.

Urban Sprawl

China’s Soviet-influenced city planning has emphasised vast boulevards and cars over people and liveability. Zoning frequently separates residential areas from industrial and commercial ones, forcing long commutes by car.

Local governments’ need for revenue from land sales has caused urban sprawl as cities expand out instead of up. The result: Gridlocked streets and choking air pollution.

“The stakes are high for China as it urbanises,” said Paulson, a former chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs Group.

“If China manages to urbanise in a way that improves people’s livelihoods and limits environmental damage, the positive impact will be enormous for the Chinese people and the rest of the planet.”

Changing the status quo will be a serious challenge. About 90 per cent of China’s cities are built according to the Soviet model, according to the San Francisco-based Energy Foundation, a non-profit organisation that promotes clean energy. Local governments remain dependent on land sales for about a fifth of their total revenue, giving them an incentive to continue selling land instead of increasing density.

“As long as local governments in China are evaluated by GDP growth, and they continue generating revenue through land sales, I do not see any sign of changes in the Chinese way of urbanisation,” said Fang Yiping, assistant professor at the PSU-China Innovations in Urbanisation Programme at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon.

Over the years, Paulson has cultivated his ties with upper echelons of the Communist Party and business. He helped many of China’s biggest enterprises list on the stock market before becoming US Treasury Secretary from 2006-09. In that post, he founded the Strategic & Economic Dialogue summits between the nations to foster closer economic ties. Premier Li Keqiang wrote the Chinese calligraphy for the “Uniting Knowledge and Action” logo that adorns the Paulson Institute website.

Growth Challenge

Paulson believes the massive urbanisation in China poses the greatest challenge and potentially biggest opportunity for shifting to a more sustainable development model, said Fred Hu, chairman of Beijing-based Primavera Capital Group and former China chairman of Goldman Sachs.

“More often than not, conservation takes a back seat if it is perceived in conflict with economic growth,” said Hu, who worked for Paulson at Goldman Sachs and is chairman of the Nature Conservatory’s China Board. “The GDP growth-centric mindset in China is hard to shake off but Hank has the status, credibility and passion to make a difference.”

Building compact cities around mass transit systems that balance commercial and residential areas, as Zhang plans, would slash reliance on cars, preventing as much as 700 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in total from spewing into the atmosphere by 2030. That’s more than was emitted by Australia and Italy combined in 2013.

Zhang has already started a programme to use electric vehicles as taxis. Other plans include priority for non-motorised vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians over cars, as well as networks of small streets instead of the vast multi-lane boulevards so common in Chinese cities.

Zhang was a “visionary” and more of his kind were likely to pop up in China in coming years, said Zhou Nan, deputy group leader of the China Energy Group of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, who is a co-author of a Paulson Institute report commissioned by the Pinggu government for its urbanisation plan.

Still, challenges to broader change in the way China urbanises abound, including limits on financial and human resources to carry out plans, she said. Some of China’s plans for eco-cities proved unsuccessful because of such problems, she said.

Green City

“If there is a change in leadership then everything will fall apart,” she said. “That’s why in the US and other countries many of the action plans are stipulated in legislation, regulation and being enforced well.”

One such green city project was to have been the Dongtan eco-city on Chongming Island near Shanghai, unveiled with great fanfare in 2005. It never got off the ground after its main backer, former Shanghai Party Chief Chen Liangyu , was sentenced to 18 years in jail in 2008 for corruption.

“The fact that there is no rush to revive Dongtan eco-city shows that the initial political back-up was so important,” according to a February research paper published in the Journal of Management and Sustainability. “Without it the project will only remain a white elephant.”

It’s also easier for Pinggu, with a small population of about 423,000 people, to remodel its urban planning than for megacities like Beijing and Shanghai or China’s other large cities.

Paulson’s hope is that annual training programmes like the one Zhang attended will lead to places such as Pinggu emerging as models for change, said Leigh Wedell, Washington-based Chief Sustainability Officer at the Paulson Institute.

“We have seen a lot of case studies like that where a successful pilot project led to national impact,” said Zhou.

Another such project is the Shenzhen International Low- Carbon City, which last year won the second annual prize for China’s “Cities of the Future”, which is co-sponsored by the Paulson Institute.

The Shenzhen project, in the Pingdi district about an hour’s drive from Hong Kong, was redeveloped without tearing buildings down and contributed to cleaning up the local river.

Paulson is also trying to spark change in the nation’s building codes. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that buildings account for almost 40 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy consumption from buildings and commercial floor space are projected to double in China through 2050, adding about 2 billion square metres a year to its 50 billion square metres of floor space. Buildings in China have the potential to improve energy efficiency by 30 per cent or more, estimates Zhou.

“By retrofitting buildings with existing technologies – even something as simple as insulation – you can start to have a major impact on the energy efficiency of a building,” said Deborah Lehr, senior fellow at the Paulson Institute.

How China went about cleaning up its environment and whether it could shift to a more efficient urbanisation pattern was crucial for global climate change, Hu said.

Zhang provided a glimmer of hope. After reading the Paulson Institute’s 65-page report on how he should revamp Pinggu’s urban design, which broadly recommends adopting leading international practices, Zhang said he wanted more.

“It’s a very good report,” he said. “But I want to see more specific recommendations, something that would really enlighten us.”