We’re often told that the only path to success is with a university degree. But there are other ways to get qualified and get a job. For students in Form Three or above, it’s important to consider all of your options that prepare you for further studies or career.
The Vocational Training Council’s (VTC)Earn & Learn Scheme is like a mix of an apprenticeship with classroom learning. The programmes under this scheme will equip you with the skills you need for a career in different trades or industries. Belle Lau Yuen-ching, VTC senior lecturer in applied science, and Katrina Leung Hei-man, a second-year higher diploma student in medical centre operations, told Young Post about the experience and qualifications you can get from these courses.
A combination of work and study:
The Hong Kong government is working with certain companies that will provide you with an allowance and a steady income if you study the programmes under the Earn & Learn Scheme.
Katrina joined a four-year higher diploma programme that is targeted specifically at Form Six graduates. “In my first year, I needed to complete a full-time study at the Institute of Vocational Education (IVE),” she said. “During the second year, I was assigned an apprenticeship at Quality HealthCare medical centre as a clinic assistant. I spend five days working and one day at school, so I only have a day off.”
Asked what attracted her to select this scheme, she said: “The employer will subsidise my tuition fees. I also receive a steady income and a government allowance, totalling HK$10,500 per month. Apart from the financial support, the vocational skills and experience are what I’m really looking for.”
Katrina said she typically helped measure patients’ blood pressure, carry out blood tests, and administer medication. The tasks have enriched her working experience. “But what is more important is learning soft skills,” Katrina said. “I’ve learned how to get along with the staff and solve patients’ problems in a professional manner. For example, if I have problems figuring out someone’s medication, I can’t be impatient. What I need to do is to ask other colleagues for help.”
Hok Yau Club Student Guidance Centre director Ng Po-shing said the Earn and Learn scheme is good for students who haven’t planned their academic and career path. “This programme offers an additional option for students who are unable to enter university, or don’t have strong interest in traditional subjects, like education, science and humanities,” he said. “It also gives many young people an opportunity to acquire practical working experience. Compared to other fresh graduates, students who have completed it should be more competitive and fit for job requirements.”
Lau said some graduates who have completed the higher diploma in medical centre operations end up being kept on by their employers, with a monthly salary of at least HK$12,000. Alternatively, some students pursue further studies and apply for a bachelor’s degree programme, such as the BSc in Applied Science (Beauty & Health) at the Open University of Hong Kong.
What you can study
Other than medical centre operations, Form Six graduates can study other higher diploma programmes under the Earn & Learn Scheme, such as testing and certification, electrical & mechanical engineering for construction, and retail.
Students from Form Three to Form Five can take a four-year Diploma of Vocational Education programme (DVE) without having to pay tuition fees. Its majors include watch and clock repair, print media, automotive technology, and electrical and mechanical engineering in construction.
To take part in the programme, Lau says you need to get a level 2 in five HKDSE subjects, including Chinese Language and English Language. Or you need to have completed the Diploma of Foundation Studies at IVE or the Diploma Yi Jin at the member institutions of the Federation for Self-financing Tertiary Education.
In their first year, students do a full-time course at the Youth College. Then in their second year, they spend a few days each week doing on-the-job training with their employers. They will also receive a salary of more than HK$8,000 per month, as well as an allowance of at least HK$1,500.