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Graduates ready for the workplace

By Fan Feifei | China Daily | Updated: 2013-08-13 07:25

Students from vocational colleges are 'favored by many enterprises'

Zhang Weijian, 22, graduated from vocational college in Jilin province last year.

He was at a job fair in Beijing in August but this did not cause him too many concerns. When it comes to getting work, Zhang is confident.

"After I graduated last year, I worked as a warehouse keeper in a supermarket. The salary is 3,000 yuan ($490) each month. It was OK," Zhang said.

"Our college has collaborated with many enterprises, and it provides a lot of internship opportunities. Finding work is not difficult, not least because we have good communication skills."

Zhang believes he is as well off as any college graduate. "We have stronger communication abilities compared with university graduates. I think we are more pragmatic and coolheaded and have the right attitude when looking for work."

There are about 7 million graduates looking for work this year, the highest number ever.

Employers are taking a number of factors into account, not just exam results, Zhang said.

Vicky Lu, deputy manager of the hotel membership card center in the Hilton Beijing Wangfujing echoed this view.

"We hire students from vocational colleges", she said. "As a salesperson it is vital that they have good communication skills and the ability to deal with problems. We treat everyone the same, whether they come from university or vocational colleges. The salary is the same."

She admits to a slight bias for vocational graduates because they are more modest and harder working, she said.

Students from vocational schools have a 90.4 percent employment rate within six months of graduation and 56 percent get promoted within three years, according to an annual report of job placements. This figure is slightly higher than the 52 percent for college graduates.

The report pointed out that more than 630 higher vocational colleges are located in prefecture-level cities or below. This accounts for almost half of the 1,297 vocational colleges.

The report was conducted by the Shanghai Academy of Educational Sciences and MyCos, an independent research institute, which is commissioned by the National Higher Vocational Principals Meeting, an NGO supported by the Ministry of Education.

It is the practical approach of vocational colleges that seem to bolster their success, said Liu Hong with the Central Research Institute for Vocational and Technical Education at the Ministry of Education.

"Vocational colleges have a clear objective and stick to an application-oriented strategy, so these students are favored by many enterprises."

Ma Yan, an expert from MyCos, said there is closer cooperation between higher vocational college and enterprises.

"The job expectations for these students are a little bit lower and they are willing to do work at a low starting point," Ma said.

Liu said it is not unusual for the delivery courier, bricklayer or fitter to earn more than the ordinary white collar worker. Some people even choose to study a trade skill after attaining a college education.

There are prejudices in society regarding education but people must be encouraged to do what they want to do, Liu said.

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