The road to life after education

Updated: 2013-09-23 10:53

By Shi Jing and He Wei (China Daily)

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The road to life after education

A student fixes a security alarm during the annual competition, in which more than 4,000 students from the city's 72 vocational schools took part. Wang Biao/For China Daily

"For students of this major, their salary is around 10,000 yuan a month. Once they graduate, they can easily find jobs," Zhou said.

The faster development of vocational education in Taicang has been boosted largely by more than 190 German companies in the city.

Known for its dual education system, Germany's economy has never been derailed, with the vocational education system guaranteeing jobs. A dual education system combines apprenticeships in a company and education at a vocational school in one course.

The dual education system was introduced to China by the central government in the 1980s, with schools under this system set up in cities including Shanghai, Nanjing, Tianjin, Weifang in Shandong province and Shiyan in Hubei province. But these attempts were initially plagued by a lack of proper training centers, the essence of the dual education system, Zhou said.

Local authorities stepped in and by 2007 there were 15 training centers working in collaboration with German companies and vocational schools in Taicang, all of them based in schools.

In July this year, Kern-Liebers, a manufacturer of springs and components for textile machines, based in the German town of Schramberg, set up a 800 square meter training center at its plant in Taicang so that students could be placed in a real-plant environment and learn things more easily.

"We considered all the possibilities to allow the students to grow up in a real-plant environment," Zhou said.

The dual education system can also be found at the Chien-Shiung Institute of Technology in Taicang. Established in 2004, the school received initial investment of 900 million yuan, with an additional 500 million yuan last year to expand its training center sixfold.

All the students under the dual education system are offered jobs by German companies based locally long before graduation.

Wei Xiaofeng, president of the institute, said: "It is now kind of ridiculous to see that migrant workers land jobs easily, while university graduates are left jobless. This is largely a consequence of a structural deficit in the educational system. We see few university graduates mastering the required skills or techniques."