GUANGZHOU -- Guangdong Machinery Technician College may not sound like an elite educational institute, but the vocational college in South China's economic powerhouse Guangdong province has produced 10 gold medalists in the WorldSkills Competition overt the last 10 years.
Hailed as the "Skills Olympics," the WorldSkills Competition is a global event that celebrates vocational skill excellence.
Among these champions is Zhou Chujie, who won the gold medal in the CNC milling competition at the WorldSkills Competition 2022 Special Edition. Now a teacher at the college, the 24-year-old said he discovered his passion for technical work during a visit to a numerically-controlled workshop in junior high school.
"In the workshop, neatly dressed technicians in gray-blue uniforms were fully engrossed in their tasks, producing one shiny part after another with the machines they were operating," Zhou recalled.
That interest transformed into a dream the moment he saw the Chinese team winning multiple medals during the 44th WorldSkills Competition on television.
Zhou said he was "too excited to fall asleep" that night. He wondered if it would be possible for him to represent China and compete in the competition one day.
With that goal in mind, Zhou enrolled in the machinery technician college, specializing in CNC milling as his major. After tenaciously honing his skills, he stood out among his peers, earning the opportunity to represent China and eventually winning the crown in the WorldSkills Competition 2022 Special Edition.
His medal marked the college's fourth consecutive triumph in the CNC milling competition.
Zhou's institution ranks among the top three public technician colleges in Guangdong. Thanks to its developed vocational education system, the province boasts 18.5 million skilled workers. Half of its college students are studying in vocational colleges.
In 2022, Guangdong's manufacturing industry produced an added-value of 4.4 trillion yuan ($613 billion), accounting for the one eighth of the national total.
Dubbed the "world's factory," China has long put vocational education high on its policy agenda, establishing the largest vocational education system in the world.
According to the country's education ministry, secondary and higher vocational schools in China produce approximately 10 million graduates every year. This consistent supply of skilled workforce has helped staff up production lines and outlets across the country.
China unveiled an action plan this month aimed at enhancing vocational education, with a focus on aligning classroom training with factory production. As part of this initiative, the country has pledged to nurture more than 10,000 enterprises that integrate industrial production with education by 2025.
According to Ye Junfeng, president of the Guangdong Machinery Technician College, the integration of industrial production with education, together with enterprise-school collaboration has become an indispensable element in the whole training process.
The school has set up a talent cultivation mechanism by partnering with over 300 well-established domestic and overseas enterprises, who have committed to providing over 17,000 job openings every year for graduates from the college.
This dynamic and mutually-reinforcing model combining industrial production with education has helped provide Guangdong with a rich reservoir of skilled workers.
"The high-quality development of China's manufacturing sector entails a high-quality vocational education. I hope to see more young people set sail on this sea of opportunities," Ye said.