The shift in focus to vocational education translates into collaborative opportunities with international educators and industry on several levels including teacher training, student exchange and cooperative education.
Aiming to increase the number of students in vocational educational institutions from 29.34 million now, to 38.3 million by 2020, the government said it could convert 600 public universities to polytechnic institutions and add a vocational skills element to the Gaokao entrance exam system.
“Imagine the scale and level of Chinese products and services if most of the 900-million-strong labor force can be trained to master medium- and high-level skills”
The reformed educational system will offer dual tracks allowing students to choose a general study or vocational pathway in secondary school that can be followed all the way up to post-secondary and post-graduate degree programmes for each.
If reforms are successful, the government hopes China’s economy will benefit and evolve beyond cheap labour exports.
“The rise of the Chinese economy is accompanied with quality improvements of Chinese products and services,” said premier Li Keqiang, speaking at a national vocational education conference in Beijing in June.
“Imagine the scale and level of Chinese products and services if most of the 900-million-strong labor force can be trained to master medium- and high-level skills.”
The strategy aims to draw on considerable industry participation by encouraging companies with specific skill demand to outsource their needs to local TVET schools.
To support internationalisation, Chinese companies with global operations are being encouraged to also work closely with TVET providers to offer relevant technical education.
To further expand international cooperation in the sector, the strategy places priority on building on already established Sino-foreign partnerships with Germany, the UK and the Netherlands.
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has been collaborating with Chinese counterparts for the last 25 years and is currently working on 49 projects in the country in areas of sustainable economic development, environment and climate, energy and natural resources.
And on a recent trade mission, Dutch Minister of Education Jet Bussemaker signed memoranda of understanding with the Chinese government to deepen cooperation in vocational training.
Australia and countries in Africa and South America are other countries where the government is keen to establish collaborative partnerships.
Priority areas for VET include agriculture, advanced manufacturing, energy, transportation and creative industries.
The government aims to increase the number of students in vocational educational institutions from 29.34 million now, to 38.3 million by 2020
The China Alliance of Universities of Applied Sciences will also be working to establish individual bilateral partnerships between “sister-schools” in China and overseas counterparts to share best practices in accreditation standards, curriculum development, quality assessment and faculty quality control.
To increase international visibility of the sector the National Vocational Students Skills Competition will open up to international participants.
The competition, launched in 2008, this year attracted 10,000 vocational school students and included a round-table meeting in Tianjin for vocational school principals from China and the UK to discusses school management and talent training.