Improving Vocational Education Brings Opportunities for Young People in Yunnan

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School-industry collaboration develops skills to meet business needs

Involving industry and businesses in the management of vocational schools can provide school leaders with crucial support in developing programs to produce the skills the labor market needs. With industry participation, students can gain relevant workplace skills before graduation.  It helps address a recurring challenge where new graduates cannot get jobs while companies cannot find workers with the right skills.

The project has supported the establishment of school-industry collaboration advisory committees and sector-specific advisory committees. Business executives and sector specialists bring new ideas, knowledge and expertise and work together with the schools to train high-skilled workers to suit business needs. School-industry collaboration has taken various forms.

Tengchong, a city bordering Myanmar, is a major jade trading and processing center in China. In 2013, a jade carving training base was established jointly by Tengchong No.1 Vocational School and Wanfu Jewelry Company. With equipment and material provided by the company, students practice jade carving under the tutorship of experienced jade carvers from Wanfu Jewelry.  Jade bracelets, pendants and small sculptures made by students are sold at a special store outside the base.

“We can learn directly from the jade carving masters and improve our skills. The company sells our products which helps us find out what customers want and how we can meet their demand,” said Yang Chenda, a jade carving student. 

Li Xiang, a deputy general manager of Wanfu Jewelry, is satisfied with the result. He said this partnership allows the company to be involved in the development of the curriculum and training material, so that the training is better targeted and aligned with business needs.

Yunnan Traffic Technician College, founded in 1953, was one of the first vocational schools in the province and has a reputation of being the “cradle of skilled workers” in Yunnan. In the last few years, the college has developed partnerships with a number of big automotive companies such as Bosch, Dongfeng Citroen, Shanghai Volkswagen and BMW.  

A brand-new training building financed by the project provides students with facilities to gain hands-on experience and practice the automotive skills that they learn in the classroom. 

 “We can practice right away to solidify what we learned in class,” said Fu Lujie, who is majoring in applied automotive techniques.

Yang Ying is a major in automotive business and service. “Student-centered learning and hands-on experience in the new facilities help us get the necessary knowledge, ability and mindsets for working in business after graduation,” said Yang.

Twenty-six training laboratories have been renovated or expanded, and 35 textbooks have been developed as a result of the project, according to college president Yang Jingyuan.  “Theory-practice integration, industry-education combination, and school-business collaboration all have had a positive propelling effect on the transformation of our college,” said Yang.

The college has also developed tailor-made training programs for companies suited to their needs. The company sends instructors and provides internships and employment. This has effectively improved the relevance of graduates and enabled a seamless transition from school to work.  

As of November 2016, the project has trained more than 6,000 teachers and school managers, developed and published 97 sets of teaching materials, completed construction of 13 new training buildings, and is expected to complete furnishing 121 training rooms by the end of the year.

Upon project completion by the end of 2017, the project is expected to directly benefit more than 24,000 students enrolled in the training programs in Yunnan’s four key economic sectors including bio-industry, geology and minerals, tourism, and automotive industries. Beyond that, the training of teachers and managers will benefit about 96,000 students who are projected to be enrolled in the nine project schools after the project is over. Almost 80% of these students will be from rural poor areas, with about 30% of them belonging to ethnic minority groups. 

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