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Tests for skilled workers

Updated: 2014-03-25 07:21
( China Daily)

A reform plan unveiled recently by the Vice-Minister of Education Lu Xin will divide the national college entrance examination into academic and vocational paths, with the former designated for academically inclined candidates and the latter for technically inclined ones.

A college-educated workforce is important, but it is not the only pillar of a national economy, said a commentary in Changjiang Daily on Monday.

In fact, many robust economies have a workforce with a comparatively small share of college degree holders. In Germany, for instance, that figure is 26 percent, and more than 58 percent of students choose to pursue vocational or technical education after they graduate from secondary school.

In China, although millions of high school and college graduates enter the job market every year, the nation still suffers from a severe short supply of technical talent. In terms of computer numerical controlled or CNC machine operators alone, China has a gap of 600,000, and many companies have a hard time finding the skilled workers they need despite offering a competitive remuneration package.

Some people are quick to conclude that Chinese students are not keen on seeking vocational or technical education on account of occupational prejudice and the idea that only a college degree can lead to career success, but this is not entirely true.

A comprehensive support mechanism still needs to be established to integrate vocational training and employment and protect the rights of technical workers. Meanwhile, China has for years acted as an original equipment manufacturer, but greater efforts are needed to invigorate the manufacturing sector, which as a whole seems less appealing for students than such industries as real estate and finance.

Vocational education in China is also facing multiple challenges. For instance, many teachers themselves lack hands-on technique experience, and the lack of close ties between schools and companies results in students either being spoon-fed or being exploited as unpaid laborers.

All these are restraining the growth of the country's technical talent. Reform of the national college entrance examination alone will not produce the desired result, supporting measures are also needed to ensure the country has the skilled workers it needs.