Building IT talent from the ground up

Sheila Lam

To better inform students on the entrepreneurship-aspects to the IT industry, he said the university regularly invites successful IT entrepreneurs like Ding to their campus for speaking engagements. These opportunities allow students to understand the industry, as well as to inspire them with successful role models.

Business-savvy tech graduates

However, Chan said that Hong Kong still lacks successful local entrepreneurs as role models. Therefore, local universities are also enhancing their academic programs to bring more career options for tech graduates.

City University redesigned its BBA-Information Systems program into BBA-Information Management in 2009, said Ma Jian, professor at Department of Information Systems at City U. Instead of training tech professionals, Ma said the program aims at training financial information professionals.

CUHK also launched an Engineering + Business Administration double-degree program in 2007. The program aims to bring more career options for engineering students, but at the same time provide more business-savvy tech graduates to meet industry needs, said Wong Kam Fai, associate dean of Faculty of Engineering at CUHK.

As part of education reform, the new academic structure, which extends university education from a 3-year into a 4-year curriculum program starting in 2012, is going to encourage similar changes in different programs.

An opportunity to make a difference

Wong said the new academic structure provides more flexibility for students to pursue a double major, thus opening up more career opportunities and options.

"IT currently does not provide the [appropriate] opportunities and options to students," added Chan from Poly U. He noted while career options and monetary return are high priorities, more smart students are looking for an opportunity to make a difference to Hong Kong.

Judy Chen, a Form Six student at Diocesan Girl's School and last year's HKJSEC president, is planning to pursue a degree in Chinese medicine. When asked what influenced her choice of major, it is the opportunity to contribution matters.

"I consider the extent to which I can help society...if I graduate from my future choice of major, I would like to be able to support other needy individuals in the community," she said.

Additional reporting by Teresa Leung

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Identify the gifted

Apart from inspiring university tech students, academics are also extending their IT evangelization towards secondary school students.

At Poly U, the Secondary School Relation Office (SSRO) is launching an informatics competition in May 2012, aiming to identify talented students in computer programming at an early age. Based on the Australian Informatics Competition (AIC), the competition is a quiz targeted for Form 4 or younger students.

"We hope to draw interest and identify students that are gifted in this area at an early age," said CK Wan, director of SSRO at Poly U.

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