International Ties

Vocational workshops to train skilled workers build bridges between China, world

By YANG CHENG and ZOU SHUO in Tianjin (China Daily)

Updated: 2022-09-08


Capo-Chichi Segnon John-Isaac Oluwaseyi (right), a student from Benin who is studying at the Tianjin University of Technology and Education, watches a micromouse maze during the World Vocational College Skills Competition this month. [Photo/China Daily]

Capo-Chichi Segnon John-Isaac Oluwaseyi, a student from Benin studying at the Tianjin University of Technology and Education, said that he was "very proud" that he and his team had won a gold medal at a world-level micromouse maze navigation competition.

During the World Vocational College Skills Competition, which wrapped up in mid-August, Oluwaseyi joined the winning team from the Tianjin Bohai Vocational Technical College.

"I am very excited. My passion for technology began when I was young, born of curiosity and the desire to understand. After three years studying in Tianjin, I feel blessed because I've realized that I have the best teachers I could wish for," he said.

Sharing in his joy was 28-year-old Wisit Saenklue, one of the first graduates of the TBVTC's Luban Workshop in Thailand, the first of its kind to be launched by a Chinese college overseas. He told his teachers that he'd recently found a new job at a local company that pays him some $1,160 a month, thanks to the knowledge and practical skills he mastered in China.

Saenklue said that his first job had already been "better and higher-paid than those of my counterparts" and that since graduating, his new offer was also much better.

The two men offered a snapshot of the possibilities created by the vocational training program launched by vocational and technological colleges in China.

To date, the 25 Luban Workshops established in 23 countries have become a bridge of friendship between China and countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, said Yang Yan, deputy director of the Tianjin Luban Workshop Research and Promotion Center.

Tianjin's vocational colleges have taken the lead in setting up 20 workshops in 19 countries, with 11 in Africa and the remainder in Europe and Asia.

Named after Lu Ban, a structural engineer during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC), who was later deified and is known as the "father of carpentry" in China for his exquisite craftsmanship and creativity, the workshops aim to train professionals around the world.

Most of the students have expressed an interest in continuing their studies in China, Yang told a subforum of the first World Vocational and Technical Education Development Conference that was held in Tianjin from Aug 19-20.

More than 99 percent of those surveyed rated their studies highly, saying that the skills they learned were needed in their countries, she said.

Almost 80 percent also said that they wanted to work at local branches of Chinese companies and more than 80 percent said they wished to continue their studies in China itself, she added.

Established in 2016, Luban Workshops have conferred degrees on 3,200 people and provided vocational training to some 11,000, according to a report.

In all, 49 vocational majors are available through the workshops, which offer training from the secondary to the postgraduate vocational degree level.

Their teaching standards have been widely recognized abroad, with 11 certified by the ministries of education in partner countries, the report said.

"The country greatly welcomes cooperation with China in upgrading vocational training in a bid to increase productivity and socioeconomic development," said Adolf Mkenda, Tanzanian Minister of Education, Science and Technology

In addition, Jose Lucas, a professor at the Polytechnic Institute of Setubal in Portugal, where a Luban Workshop was set up by the Tianjin Vocational College of Mechanics and Electricity, said, "The workshop has optimized its programs and offers training in a full lineup of machinery in line with Europe's Industry 4.0 strategy, and the training offered also meets that strategy."

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