Building IT talent from the ground up

Sheila Lam

Students scoring in the top 5 percent in the AIC will be invited to special workshops organized by Poly U's Department of Computing. These workshops will run classes during school holidays to provide further training and development for these gifted-students.

The Hong Kong Joint School Electronic and Computer Society (HKJSEC) is another organization aimed at drawing interest in IT among youth.

Run and operated by secondary school students, the HKJSEC organizes annual computer exhibitions and the Hong Kong Outstanding IT School Award (HKOITSA). Aiming to inspire an interest towards computer science within students, the HKOITSA recognizes schools that are best at presenting and demonstrating IT in different aspect of our daily lives.

Major universities and the Hong Kong Computer Society (HKCS) are also advisors for the HKJSEC. "We hope to raise awareness and knowledge among secondary schools in IT," said Michael Leung, vice president (talent cultivation) at the HKCS. "Not necessarily to urge them to pursue a career in IT, but to mainly to raise interest and attention."

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Why aren't there more women in IT?

IT is primarily a male-dominated industry. But the tables are turned at the Hong Kong Joint Schools Electronics and Computing Society (HKJSECS). The executive committee memberships of the HKJSECS are dominated by females. Judy Chen, the former president of HKJSECS and a Form Six student at Diocesan Girls' School explains.

"Most of my schoolmates are not interested in studying IT as they think it would be a disadvantage...they think computer study involves many calculations, which seems to interest boys rather than girls," she said. "Some of them are not interested in [a career in IT] as they might consider IT as an interest instead of an academic subject."

When asked further why girls consider IT as an interest instead of career, the real reason appears to be lack of encouragement.

"They feel bored not because of the calculations, but they often feel defeated when they can't create something on the computer as the programs change too fast," she said. "Conservative girls feel that they cannot follow."

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Young tech pros upbeat about their future

Despite the perceived uncertainties for IT graduates, young tech pros like Ben Cheng and Kelvin Wong believe IT is a career choice that can make a difference.

Cheng graduated in 2007 from the Chinese University of Hong Kong with a degree in information engineering and is now running his own software firm Oursky, while his employee Kelvin Wong--a recent economics graduate from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology--is a software engineer.

Cheng founded Oursky with another two tech pros in 2008. His company is now an incubatee at the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks, focusing on the development of web applications for businesses. Oursky launched its first product PandaForm in 2010: a form builder that allows users to create various types of forms and integrate them with workflows.

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