Huge investment over past decade produces millions of skilled graduates
China has built the world's largest vocational education system, which nurtures around 10 million graduates every year, the Ministry of Education said on Tuesday.
The number of new enrollments to higher vocational colleges reached 5.57 million last year, up by 180 percent from 10 years ago, said Chen Ziji, director of the ministry's department of vocational education, adding that secondary vocational schools enrolled 4.89 million students last year.
Higher vocational colleges have increased enrollment by 4.13 million in the past three years, playing an important role in stabilizing employment as many of the enrollment targets were given to ex-service people, the unemployed and migrant workers, he said.
In the past 10 years, 108 vocational majors have been weeded out and the country has added or upgraded 1,007 majors, Chen said at a news conference highlighting the achievements in vocational education since the 18th Communist Party of China National Congress in 2012.
More than 70 percent of employees in modern manufacturing, and new and emerging industries and services are graduates from vocational schools, he said.
Ren Youqun, director of the ministry's department of teacher education, said the number of vocational school teachers grew from 1.11 million in 2012 to 1.29 million in 2021.
Since 2012, the central government has allocated 5.3 billion yuan ($800 million) and provincial-level governments have invested 4.3 billion yuan in teacher training programs, he said.
Li Dasheng, an official with the Guangdong Provincial Education Department, said the province has invested 448 billion yuan in vocational education in the past decade and has attached equal importance to developing vocational and regular education.
The average government investment on an individual secondary vocational school student jumped by 280 percent, and that for higher vocational colleges by 82 percent in the past 10 years, he said.
The province nurtured around 7.69 million technical graduates in the past decade and the employment rate for vocational schools has reached more than 95 percent for many years, he said.
Xing Xiaoying, who graduated from Shaanxi Polytechnic Institute, works as a teacher at Tsinghua University, one of the country's best universities.
Last year, videos of her teaching students how to cast molds attracted more than 200 million views online, with netizens amazed that vocational school graduates could teach at prestigious Tsinghua.
"In my three years at vocational college, more than half of the courses were to train practical skills, and that's why I am able to teach those skills to undergraduate students at Tsinghua," she said.
Vocational education has enabled graduates to find the field they are really passionate about, to work hard and to have the opportunity to shine, she said.