The Ministry of Education plans to increase enrollment in vocational colleges by 1.15 million this year to help cultivate professional skills and boost employment, a senior official said on May 8.
Wang Jiping, head of the ministry’s department of vocational and adult education, said the effort will favor high-quality vocational colleges, high-demand disciplines and poverty-stricken areas.
Vocational college graduates should enjoy the same treatment as their university counterparts in seeking employment, promotion and moving to cities, he said, adding that this would help more highly skilled young people realize their full potential.
The central government has allocated 23.7 billion yuan ($3.5 billion) to improve the quality of vocational education and increase subsidies for students, he said.
As a key human resource in China’s economic development, vocational schools have contributed more than 70 percent of the new workers in manufacturing and emerging industries, Wang said.
Flexible study periods and diverse teaching models will be adopted to meet the demands of different students, and the ministry will intensify its efforts to align academic diplomas and vocational certificates, he said.
Teaching will be held to high standards, he said, and the ministry will hire 65,000 part-time and full-time teachers to meet the demand created by the new students.
Lou Xuqing, an official in the ministry’s department of development planning, said a special round of vocational college applications will be organized before the national college entrance examination, or gaokao, this year. High school and secondary vocational school graduates, military veterans, laid-off workers, rural migrant workers and skilled farmers will be given favorable policies.
An additional round of applications will be held in October for military personnel who were demobilized this year, Lou said.
Vocational colleges are allowed to organize independent exams to deal with the increase in enrollment. These exams can take place either before or after the national college entrance exam.
China has about 11,700 vocational schools, with around 9.3 million new enrollment last year taking the total number of vocational students to 26.9 million, the ministry said.
Chen Yu, director of the China Institute for Occupation Research at Peking University, said, “With many people struggling to find jobs, many employers are faced with difficulty in recruiting the right person.”
The growth of new business models and industries means a sizable portion of the workforce is struggling to adapt to new demands in the job market, he said.
“The only solution to the problem is to offer more training to workers to enable them to better adapt to new technologies and new positions,” he said.