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Institute Turns Out Young Talents ( INDUSTRY NEWS )(HKTDC Fashion - Fabrics & Accessories, Vol 01,1998)

September 1998



Institute Turns Out Young Talents

THE garment industry needs to train young people if they are to enter the sector and contribute to its growth. Hong Kong's apparel production lines may have moved elsewhere, but training for the industry's future key personnel is still carried out in Hong Kong, and nowhere more so than in the Hong Kong Polytechnic University's Institute of Textiles & Clothing. Recent developments promise to take this training ground to an even higher plane.

The first initiative is a move towards a US-style "credits" system for students, which applies throughout the entire university. The existing yearly system will be phased out gradually and replaced by one that is semester-based. The first students under the new system will be the freshman intake of 1998/99.

What that means, in practice, explains Dr TK Chong, dean of the institute, is that students will be able to transfer their credits (or a large proportion of them) either to study in Hong Kong or for local students to broaden their experience overseas. He cites the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, North Carolina State University and Polimoda in Florence, all of which work on a similar credit-based system.

This development should also facilitate movement between Hong Kong and some Chinese universities that operate on the credits principle.

One development specific to the institute is the replacement of the previous BSc (Hons) in Textiles by a BSc (Hons) in Fashion & Textile Products Studies. As its title implies, this is a broader-ranging course and focuses on product development. Chong says it is aimed at making executives more aware of a number of factors contributing towards product development. That includes both manufacturing and marketing, but takes in other considerations such as design, quality and costing.

The old BSc (Hons) in Textile Chemistry was replaced by a new BSc (Hons) in Colour & Textile Studies, a more comprehensive course designed to give students "a wider spectrum of knowledge" than before. Hong Kong's apparel industry, Chong explains, is globalised, and people within a company must have an understanding of issues that might arise almost anywhere in the world. The new course will add textile technology to the colouring and finishing of textiles covered by the previous course.

The institute is also building a new Objective Evaluation Laboratory, which will attempt to quantify scientifically several topics which are generally regarded as subjective.

One example is colour, which is hard to quantify, says Chong. Designers and manufacturers use different names and terms to describe a colour. The lab will devise scientific methods of quantifying colour digitally. The effect is "to quantify colour content qualitatively", he says.

Two other subjective concerns are "feel" and "comfort". How does one express the feel of a piece of material? Yet shoppers usually feel a garment right after the colour or design has initially attracted their attention. "We're looking to quantify the parameters" of these issues, says Chong.

The current academic year has also seen the introduction of a new award in Fashion Retailing added to the Higher Diploma Scheme in Fashion & Textile Studies, and a new award in Apparel Merchandising has been added to the Certificate of Fashion & Clothing Manufacture.

The purpose of the institute has always been an ambitious one: to train students to stay ahead in the globally competitive apparel industry. As Hong Kong's apparel companies have moved away from simple manufacture towards an array of creative, marketing, purchasing and value-added services, the institute has been right up there guiding students to meet the industry's needs.

Written by Alan M Abrahams

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