Vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion brews up big dreams

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By LI WENFANG in Guangzhou li­wen­[email protected]­nadaily.com.cn

Xing Jun­jie, a sec­ond-year stu­dent at Guangzhou Vo­ca­tional School of Tourism and Busi­ness, earned a spot in this month’s na­tional fi­nals of a cof­fee-mak­ing com­pe­ti­tion by plac­ing sec­ond in a south­ern re­gion pre­lim­i­nary in Guangzhou last month.

The 16-year-old’s longer-term am­bi­tion is to run a cof­fee shop of his own, us­ing the knowl­edge and skills he has gained at the school in cof­fee mak­ing, tea mak­ing, bar­tend­ing, Western-style bak­ing, fruit carv­ing, and ho­tel ser­vice and man­age­ment.

“The tech­nique is im­por­tant but I think it is more im­por­tant to be able to man­age a team and all mat­ters in a cof­fee shop,” Xing said ahead of the na­tional fi­nals in Lin­cang, Yun­nan prov­ince, from Dec 18-20.

The key na­tional-level vo­ca­tional school — which opened in 1981 to train work­ers for Guangzhou’s White Swan Ho­tel, the first five-star ho­tel on the Chi­nese main­land — has con­tin­u­ally im­proved its teach­ing model in co­op­er­a­tion with the cor­po­rate sec­tor to meet the de­mand for ta­lent and fa­cil­i­tate em­ploy­ment, said Wang Yong, its Party sec­re­tary.

Grad­u­ates oc­cupy 70 per­cent of po­si­tions at all lev­els at the White Swan Ho­tel and can also be found at other ma­jor ho­tels and travel agen­cies in Guangzhou, with some hold­ing se­nior posts, Wang said.

Since 2013, an ed­u­ca­tional group that now has 189 mem­bers drawn from em­ploy­ers, busi­ness as­so­ci­a­tions and academia has been de­sign­ing the cur­ricu­lum, run­ning em­ployer-des­ig­nated classes and for­mu­lat­ing stan­dards, said Chen Yip­ing, a vice-prin­ci­pal of the school.

Apart from knowl­edge and skills, the school also em­pha­sizes the cul­ti­va­tion of con­fi­dence among stu­dents and their par­ents about the stu­dents’ fu­ture ca­reers.

At first, Chen said, many par­ents hold the deep-rooted tra­di­tional belief that only univer­sity ed­u­ca­tion can lead to a bright fu­ture.

“We hold some par­ent-stu­dent events on cam­pus and some par­ents are moved to tears when they see the work their chil­dren are able to ac­com­plish,” she said.

Grad­u­ates earn an av­er­age of about 2,200 yuan ($320) a month in their first year at work, but that can rise to more than 2,500 yuan in sec­tors such as tea houses, e-com­merce, and beauty and hair sa­lons.

One hair­styl­ist who grad­u­ated from the school in 2011 is earn­ing 500,000 yuan a year.

The school, which has more than 4,500 stu­dents on cam­pus, fa­cil­i­tates fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion of its grad­u­ates in co­op­er­a­tion with do­mes­tic and for­eign col­leges.

For ex­am­ple, about 70 cook­ing grad­u­ates are now work­ing in New Zealand after fur­ther study at schools in that coun­try, in­clud­ing NorthTec.

The Guangzhou school has forged ties with 22 schools in 14 coun­tries and re­gions for co­op­er­a­tion in teacher train­ing, in­tern­ships and em­ploy­ment, stu­dent cer­tifi­cate cross-recog­ni­tion and cur­ricu­lum de­sign.

It re­cently signed an agree­ment with the tourism au­thor­i­ties and 12 tourism vo­ca­tional schools in Por­tu­gal on build­ing train­ing fa­cil­i­ties there for sub­jects such as tea mak­ing and cook­ing.

About half the school’s grad­u­ates choose to go on to fur­ther study, and it is plan­ning to open an in­ter­na­tional col­lege in Guangzhou in 2021 to make it eas­ier for them to do so.

To en­hance vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion in the Guang­dong-Hong Kong-Ma­cao Greater Bay Area, the school has launched a tourism vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion al­liance with par­ties in­clud­ing the In­sti­tute for Tourism Stud­ies of Ma­cao and Zhong­shan Polytech­nic.

China is now stress­ing the im­por­tance of crafts­man­ship and vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion amid an in­dus­trial up­grade.

“Tourism com­prises a large share of the econ­omy of an in­ter­na­tional me­trop­o­lis like Guangzhou. We have a good rep­u­ta­tion in course de­sign and ac­cep­tance by em­ploy­ers,” said Wang Zhao­hui, an­other vice-prin­ci­pal at the school.

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