YOUNG people from around the world, including Malaysia, can join vocational and professional education and training in Hong Kong, through the recently launched Vocational Professionals Admission Scheme (VPAS).
Introduced as a pilot initiative by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, VPAS welcomes non-local students to enrol in specifically designated full-time higher diploma (HD) programmes in the 2024/25 and 2025/26 academic years, offered by the Vocational Training Council (VTC).
Upon successful graduation, they will receive internationally recognised qualifications, making them eligible to apply for employment opportunities in the city. Currently, around 90% of the VTC’s HD graduates are employed, with an average starting salary of US$2,000 a month.
Successful applicants will have a diverse array of 27 two-year HD programmes to choose from.
Conducted in English, these courses are offered by VTC, the largest vocational and professional education and training provider in Hong Kong, covering five pivotal sectors.
They include aviation, transport and logistics, maritime, innovation and technology, electrical and mechanical services, as well as building, civil engineering and built environment.
Carefully chosen for their relevance to occupational sectors critical for the city’s sustainable development, these programmes address the pressing manpower shortages currently faced by these industries.
Pathways to career and permanent residency for VPAS graduates
Graduates of the designated HD programmes, regardless of their nationality, can apply for VPAS. Successful applicants are eligible for a VPAS visa, permitting them to stay in Hong Kong for 12 months to actively pursue employment opportunities.
Within the VPAS framework, participants can seek an extension of their stay upon securing employment aligned with their academic specialisation.
During the initial four years of employment, VPAS participants are obliged to work in roles corresponding to their field of study.
Upon completing seven consecutive years of residence in Hong Kong, which includes academic studies, job searching and a minimum of four years of full-time employment, VPAS participants become eligible to apply for permanent residency in the city of Hong Kong.
VPAS applicants are required to possess senior secondary qualifications or their equivalent from their home countries. In addition, they must attain the required results in examinations that meet the entrance requirements for VTC’s HD programmes.
Applicants for VPAS must hold senior secondary qualifications, such as SPM, STPM or UEC or their equivalent, from their home countries. They must also achieve the necessary results in examinations that meet the entrance requirements for VTC’s HD programmes.
Support for VPAS students
“English proficiency is a prerequisite for all HD programmes, as English serves as the medium of instruction.
“To further support non-local students in their English language development, VTC is launching an English Enhancement Programme, specifically designed to strengthen presentation skills, facilitate workplace discussions and expand workplace-related vocabulary.
“Our goal is to provide non-local students with the necessary tools and resources to thrive in a professional setting, “says VTC deputy executive director Alaina Shum.
“Furthermore, we will provide training for our teaching facility and support services for students who require assistance. Depending on availability, VTC can offer accommodation at our dormitories, including the one in Tsing Yi district,” she adds.
Recognising that non-local students may be unfamiliar with Hong Kong and therefore require assistance, VTC has established multiple task forces tasked with devising comprehensive strategies regarding teaching resources and support services for VPAS students in need.
Assistance for VPAS students in securing employment
Drawing on its robust industry networks, VTC is dedicated to aiding non-local students in securing employment. This commitment is realised through the facilitation of industry attachments, the organisation of regular recruitment talks and the provision of a job matching service.
Shum states, “VTC’s experience in administering similar schemes, such as the apprenticeship scheme for local students, positions it well for this task.”
She believes that the applied skills focus and optimal balance of theory and practice in the VTC HD programmes make them particularly appealing to VPAS participants.
Shum highlights the opportunities these programmes offer for work-integrated learning, internships, and project-based learning, enabling students to gain practical experience and build networks. Most fundamentally, students can earn globally recognised qualifications.
Attracting top talent through scholarships
In its commitment to nurturing excellence, VTC actively seeks to attract the brightest students, both locally and overseas, by offering various scholarship schemes, including the HKSAR Government Scholarship Fund/Self-financing Post-secondary Education Fund and Dr Ng Tat-Lun Memorial Outstanding Students Award Scheme.
“These scholarship opportunities underscore VTC’s dedication to recognising and rewarding exceptional achievements, fostering an environment where the pursuit of academic excellence is both encouraged and celebrated,” says Shum.
She continues, “I believe that VPAS holds immense appeal for many overseas youths who are eager to experience the vibrant city and diverse cultures of Hong Kong while immersing themselves in the globally recognised vocational and professional education that VTC offers.
“This education not only enriches their knowledge but also broadens their horizons in ways they might not have imagined. VPAS will unlock opportunities for internships, corporate attachments, and exchange programs, providing a valuable gateway not only to experience Hong Kong but also to gain a global perspective.”