The number of students joining vocational training schemes for the retail industry has dropped from about 100 to nine in five years, according to the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau.
The bureau believed a drop in the number of secondary six graduates and other opportunities for further studies and employment are partly responsible for the drop in admissions, while lawmaker Michael Luk Chung-hung attributed it to a lack of promotion.
Launched in 2014 by the Vocational Training Council in partnership with the Hong Kong Retail Management Association, the Earn and Learn Pilot Scheme for the retail industry allows secondary six graduates to attend classes while gaining retail experience and receiving an allowance of HK$2,000 per month.
In a written reply to the Legislative Council, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah wrote that 303 student-workers had completed the diploma in foundation studies program in the first three cohorts.
Of the 30 student-workers enrolled in the fourth cohort, only 19 completed the program.
Yau wrote that dropouts left the program for reasons including early engagement in full-time jobs, switching to full-time studies, inability to cope with work and study concurrently and other personal reasons, according to their responses when asked by the VTC.
The bureau will continue to work with the VTC and the association to "strengthen the publicity on the pilot scheme and enhance the program's content and attractiveness," he wrote, so as to provide graduates with a clear articulation ladder for further studies and career advancement, with a view to enhancing the retail industry's professional service standards.
The program had 24 student-workers last year, and only nine this year.