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Mixed success for retail industry scheme

Not all student-workers in the pilot earn-and-learn retail industry scheme in Hong Kong are still working in retail, the Legislative Council has been told.

In a tracking survey in September, only 61 of the 161 graduates of the initial classes responded. Of these, 21 were working in the retail sector, 18 were pursuing alternative careers, 18 were undertaking further studies and four had yet to decide on a definite career path.

In partnership with the Hong Kong Retail Management Association (HKRMA), the pilot scheme was launched in 2014 by the Vocational Training Council (VTC), offering secondary six graduates on-campus classes while acquiring work experience and receiving a government allowance of $2000 a month.

In response to a question by Ho Kai-ming, the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau gave a written response in the Legislative Council.

He says the second cohort of the Foundation Diploma (FD) program under the pilot scheme started in September 2015 with an intake of 175 student-workers, of which 104 completed the course in February last year.

Starting a year later, the third cohort of the program, renamed as the Diploma of Foundation Studies (DFS) program, attracted 72 student-workers. There were 34 drop-outs.

Inquiries by the Vocational Training Council (VTC) show the drop-outs left for a variety reasons, including joining the retail workforce or other sectors full-time at an earlier stage, switching to full-time studies, having difficulties with handling both work and study requirements at the same time, and personal reasons,

Of the 24 respondents, 18 had joined the retail workforce – 12 of them being employed by the companies that had provided them with internship placements – while the other six had been employed by other retailers.

There were 30 participants in the fourth cohort when it started last September, while applications for the fifth intake have opened. 

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