Dr Maliki Osman, Second Minister for Education, Singapore Mr Esmond Lee, Deputy Secretary for Education, Hong Kong Education Bureau Mr Ong Siew Gay, Consul General, Consulate-General of Singapore in Hong Kong Mr Tony Tai, Chairman, Vocational Training Council (VTC), Hong Kong Ms Low Khah Gek, CEO, ITE Mr Donald Tong, Executive Director, VTC Honoured Speakers Management, Staff and Students of ITE and VTC Representatives from Global Education Network, University of West England and Singapore Polytechnic Introduction 1 Good Morning! Zhou San, Dai Ka Hou (‘Hello, everyone’ in Cantonese, 大家好)! I am delighted to be here to join you at the 8th ITE-VTC International Student Seminar 2022. 2 ITE and VTC have been co-organising this biennial Student Seminar since 2007. In 2009, we took it to a global level by inviting other like-minded international partners to participate in the Seminar. It is remarkable that over the last 15 years, the Seminars have benefitted close to 4,500 students. 3 This year, we have representatives from the University of West England, Singapore Polytechnic, and our Global Education Network partners, from Box Hill Institute, Australia; Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, Canada; and Kirkwood Community College, USA. Altogether, close to 600 students from five countries are participating in this Seminar. Welcome, everyone! Strong Commitment to ISS 4 This edition of the ISS was originally scheduled to take place in 2021. Due to the COVID pandemic, both parties decided to postpone it to this year, in a hybrid mode. Despite all the ‘curveballs’ and many uncertainties, I am heartened that we could proceed with the seminar to give our students and young people opportunities to meet virtually and share their thoughts and views on current issues. Forging Ahead 5 Despite restrictions on travel in the past two-and-a-half years, VTC remained one of our most steadfast and active international partners. Together, we organised close to 20 virtual exchanges, benefiting over 700 students and 50 staff from both institutions. 6 In May 2021, we ran a full-day Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things workshop together. Also in Nov 2021, ITE’s Work-Study Diploma in Rehabilitation Care trainees and VTC’s Higher Diploma in Rehabilitation Services students also came together on a joint project and used the Geriatric Depression Scale to measure and compare the emotional levels of elderly in Singapore and Hong Kong during COVID-19. They drew lessons on how both societies support vulnerable older persons during the pandemic. 7 ITE and VTC Youth College students paired up for a joint presentation at the first virtual STEM Forum in Hong Kong in May 2020 on their project titled, ‘Save a Tree, Save a Life’. Both institutions also organised video competitions and other ways to connect with and engage one another in a virtual environment. 8 What impressed me was how we hardly skipped a beat in the transition to virtual collaborations. This is in large part possible because of the strong foundation built over the past 24 years of partnership, consistently and passionately upheld by leaders and staff from both sides. The longstanding proven track record has enabled us to continue to forge close academic cooperation and foster fruitful student and staff exchanges. Navigating a Post-COVID World 9 As the world looks towards an endemic COVID, this year’s Seminar theme is apt: ‘Post Covid-19 World: Towards an Inclusive and Sustainable Future.’ 10 The buzz we often hear about these days is returning to pre-COVID economy, travel, business-as-usual (crowds and traffic jams included). Also widely talked about is to “build back better”, with a shift to sustainable practices for a more resilient economy and nation. A central dimension of building back better is the need for people-centred focus that prioritises inclusiveness and well-being. 11 This Seminar is a good platform to reflect on these trending topics, to deliberate on these issues and raise potential solutions. 12 I look forward to an exciting line-up of students’ sharing over the next two days. Appreciation and Conclusion 13 Before I conclude, let me thank the Organising Committees from ITE and VTC, respectively led by Alvin and Hidi (Hai-di), for planning and executing this virtual Seminar. It is no easy feat to arrange an event synchronously in two countries. Thank you for striving to combine the best of technology and interactive elements, such as virtual tours and amazing race activities for all participants. 14 My appreciation and thanks also go to our Guest Speakers from Singapore and Hong Kong, for generously sharing your wealth of knowledge and insights with the students. 15 Thank you to Tony and Donald, and the VTC management team, for your strong support for this Student Seminar, and beyond. May I also offer my Heartiest Congratulations to you and your team, on the 40th Anniversary of VTC. 16 Finally, to all the students and participants, I wish you a fruitful Seminar and a time of enriched learning and friendships over these two days. Thank you.