China Collaboration to Increase Employer Engagement
This FCO Prosperity pilot project saw the UK work collaboratively with Ningbo in building the requirement for ‘dual professionalism’ and strengthened employer engagement in the delivery of vocational education in two key priority skills areas for the city; Advanced Manufacturing and Port Logistics.
Ningbo Educational Bureau identified two vocational areas in need of support through collaboration with UK providers. Advanced Manufacturing and Port Logistics linked closely to the priorities of ‘Made in China 2025’ and to increased trade co-operation outlined in ‘One Belt One Road’.
China’s vocational education and training (VET) sector has difficulties in identifying adequately experienced vocational trainers and industry links remain a challenge. Advanced Manufacturing and Port Logistics are growing industries in Ningbo and more integrated, industry-led curriculum delivery is needed to meet the needs of local employers.
The pilot brought together experts from vocational colleges, private training providers, sector skills councils and associations in the UK to assess existing employer engagement and to introduce and implement the concept of ‘dual professionalism’ where the vocational teacher is also an industry expert.
The UK consortium worked with partners in Ningbo to assess employer engagement practice in sample VET institutions in China and to help them develop employer engagement strategies which matched local need and institutional priorities.
All partners in the UK and China felt that the pilot had a positive impact. The opportunity to have meetings and visits in both Ningbo and in the UK increased the understanding, in both countries, of the opportunities, challenges and limitations facing the skills sector. Whilst the visit to China was useful for the UK team to understand more about the Chinese VET system and its interaction with industry, it was difficult to really demonstrate to the Chinese partners the possible ways of strengthening employer engagement and developing associated strategies and action plans.
Therefore the inward visit to the UK in January 2017 showcased the possibilities of what excellent, focussed and sector-specific employer engagement could look like in Ningbo. Ningbo colleagues returned to China more motivated and determined to engage with their industry partners in a different and more collaborative way.