Powering to the top

January 14, 2018

A new diploma course offered by the Vocational Training Council and a local utility company has been so popular, the number of places will be doubled and more courses developed.


The CLP Power Academy opened last year and saw an overwhelming response to its first course, receiving over 170 applications for the 40 available places.


The Professional Diploma in Power Engineering course, which began in October, is the first part-time programme offered by the academy.


It has been accredited as a Qualifications Framework Level 4 programme. Applicants must have two years of experience in the industry.


Graduates who have already registered as Grade B or Grade C Electrical Workers can register as Grade H workers so they can work on high voltage electrical installations.


High demand

The academy's Vice Chancellor Paul Poon said as electricity is a daily necessity, coupled with the demand for electromechanical personnel in many local infrastructure projects, it is necessary to nurture more talent for the industry.


"The industry needs 2,000 recruits a year, nearly double last year's uptake. The demand for manpower in the industry will definitely continue to rise."


By working with another tertiary institution, the academy will offer a degree programme in power engineering this year.


Mr Poon said: "That will provide the articulation path for the Professional Diploma graduates because some of them may want to continue with the study, such that they can advance further to the engineer level."


This year the academy will also develop a diploma course in power engineering for Secondary 3 graduates. Students can become tradesmen after graduation. The three courses are interconnected.


"We are providing the whole range of academic study that will match the qualification requirement, that will match the career path," Mr Poon added.


"So, we can imagine, Diploma electrician, Professional Diploma technician, Degree engineer. So, that is the complete path for the interested students."


Brother's keeper

CLP Power Overhead Line Tradesman Chong Kin-fai enrolled in last year's professional diploma course. He said the programme is comprehensive.


"I work in the overhead lines field and rarely see underground cables. The course taught me more about electrical installations."


Twenty-six-year-old Kin-fai joined the industry because of his older brother who also works in CLP. Kin-fai has now been at the power company for six years.


"After I finished the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination I had nothing to do and always played video games at home.


"However, my brother worked every day. I asked him about his work and it made me interested in his job. He affected me quite a lot."


His brother, 29-year-old Chong Kin-jun, has been working at the company for eight years and now serves as a High Voltage Live Line Work Senior Tradesman (Special).


Kin-jun saw how the job transformed his brother.


"Working with electricity has made Kin-fai a lot more cautious and mature. He also cares more for other people as he is not working alone. His job requires teamwork."


The siblings often discuss their work, and with his brother's encouragement Kin-fai has set a goal for himself.


"I want to be promoted to a higher position, so I have to study. My short-term goal is to become a technician. I hope to be an engineer in the long run."


Advanced facilities

The CLP Power Academy provides comprehensive training venues, including a mock substation, a cable jointing workshop and an overhead line training school.


It uses virtual reality technology so students can safely practise climbing an 80-metre transmission tower.


Mr Poon said: "You can climb the tower in a virtual environment. You can be relatively safe but you can learn all the necessary techniques, all the safety precautions, before you are sent to the site to do the actual climbing."


Another virtual reality facility simulates different working environments so students can learn the safety precautions required in various working scenarios.


Mr Poon said the academy provides a wide range of workshops, site visits, guest lectures and mentorships which make their courses unique.


"Students can learn with CLP's actual equipment such as switches, transformers, cables, overhead lines and monitoring systems.


"These are all part of our daily work and enable students to put what they have learnt into practice."


A new batch of students is being recruited for the professional diploma course. The number of academy places has been doubled to 80. Along with its power systems stream, it has launched a new power plants stream.


The enrolment deadline is January 19. The programme will start in April.

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