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Career options broaden for school graduates

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-03-30 09:32
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Vocational schools offer international programs, like this one at a traditional medicine college in Huzhou, Zhejiang province. TAN YUNFENG/FOR CHINA DAILY

Chen Meina, a 29-year-old care worker, stayed in Germany and continued with her work during Spring Festival, rather than returning to her hometown in Northeast China's Liaoning province.

"I've been studying and working in Germany for more than five years. I incorporate traditional Chinese medicine nursing skills into my daily work, and many elderly individuals here appreciate it," Chen says.

Chen graduated from the Liaoning Vocational College of Medicine in 2018. The institution is run by the provincial government to cultivate highly skilled professionals in nursing, pharmacy and medicine.

In the same year, an educational cooperation agreement was signed between the vocational college and Germany's Oscar Kemmel Vocational College for a nursing talent training program. Subsequently, the first batch of 17 Chinese students pursued studies in Germany, with six including Chen opting to serve as elderly care workers in German nursing homes.

In recent years, China has actively expanded its vocational education to align with the demands of enterprises. According to this year's government work report, the country will redouble its efforts to improve vocational education. Thanks to diverse programs, the country's vocational education has embraced international cooperation.

Statistics show that, in the past decade, since the inception of the Belt and Road Initiative, more than 400 higher vocational colleges in China and foreign educational institutions have forged cooperation in running schools.

Many vocational education programs from China have also been introduced in the countries involved with the Belt and Road Initiative. In 2017, the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway, a Belt and Road flagship project jointly built by China Road and Bridge Corp and the Kenya government, officially opened to traffic. Two vocational colleges from Liaoning sent their staff to Kenya and helped train over 300 railway workers.

"Recently, we've signed two new international joint education programs, mainly serving the construction of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway and the China-Mongolia railway. Compared with previous programs, we are paying more attention to the employment and technical needs of the enterprises this time," says Dong Yanan, vice-president of the Liaoning Railway Vocational and Technical College.

According to data released by the Ministry of Education in 2023, there were 9,752 secondary vocational schools in the country, with over 17.8 million students.

"Many believe that only students with good academic performances from famous universities have the opportunity to study abroad. Now, we can also study abroad through our own efforts and excellent vocational skills, which is a great encouragement to me," says Chen Xingwang, a student from the School of Economics and Management at Guangzhou Nanyang Polytechnic College who studied in South Korea last year.

To better serve the development of Chinese enterprises overseas, 18 vocational colleges in South China's Guangdong province have launched 39 overseas education programs.

Shenzhen Polytechnic University has collaborated with enterprises, such as China's tech giant Huawei, to establish seven overseas vocational education and training centers in five countries, including Bulgaria and Germany.

China has also invited its global partners to empower the development of its vocational education.

Since 2013, BMW Brilliance Automotive, located in Shenyang in Liaoning, has run a vocational program. Collaborating with vocational schools, the company develops courses that align with the needs of both the schools and the enterprise, aiming to offer students more comprehensive practical training and on-the-job internship opportunities.

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