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China Daily Website

Making it all work in the real world

Updated: 2012-11-24 10:02
By Zhang Haizhou ( China Daily)

Training too theoretical

At present, China's vocational training system faces a key problem in that it is deemed to be too theoretical, with not enough practical instruction offered.

"We still focus too much on teaching and learning in the classroom," says Tan Hao, an education analyst based in Beijing. "This is theoretical learning but not vocational training."

Tan says it is "remarkable progress" that most vocational schools now include internships as part of their courses, "but it's not good enough. Practical training shouldn't be just a part, but the key part of their modules. That's the best way to improve the overall ability of our graduates."

Zhou Hong, general manager of Festo (China) Production, says the company set up its own training center in Jinan mainly because it could not find enough suitably skilled people among the Chinese vocational school graduates.

In China, vocational students usually spend their first two years on campus and the final year doing internships in companies, Zhou says, adding that Festo also takes many third-year trainees.

"But after they arrive, we find these people lack systematic practical training, and so many companies can only use them as laborers. We need more time to train them, as they may make mistakes on quality control, which will cause bigger losses for companies."

Festo's training center in Jinan has started bringing in second-year students from Jinan Vocational Training College's Sino-German class, which applies a German-style system of training, with greater emphasis on practical instruction.

Fifty apprentices, including Wu Xiangbo, enrolled at the college in September last year for a three-year course in industrial mechanics. After the first year focusing on theoretical studies on campus, they spend half the second year in partner companies. The third year will be dedicated to on-the-job training at workshops.

Apprentices at Festo receive instruction from six trainers who are all company engineers or highly skilled workers.

After graduating with qualifications from the college and AHK, apprentices can expect to be offered jobs at Festo.

Dual education is theory plus practical training, says Stephan Fritsch, qualification manager for Festo Didactic, the company's equipment and solution provider for industrial education.

Festo has invested about 1 million euros ($1.28 million) to establish the training center, which includes a wealth of sophisticated specialist equipment and machinery.

"After three years, the apprentices are well trained, well educated, and can be productive," Fritsch says. "If you are oriented for the long term, education is the only way to meet all requirements."