As required by the State Council, by 2020 China’s vocational education system will be shaped into a modern and internationally leading one with Chinese characteristics , with the scale of higher vocational education accounting for more than half of all higher education.

In the government work report put together in the two sessions this year, Premier Li Keqiang expressed the government’s aim “to vigorously develop modern vocational education”. In fact, as an important part of supply-side, the supply of highly skilled personnel plays a vital role in the reform of supply-side and achieving “Intelligent Manufacturing in China” as soon as possible.

On March 5, 2016, the Fourth Session of the Twelfth National People's Congress (NPC) kicked off in the Great Hall of the People, where the government work report (hereinafter referred to as the "report") delivered by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was heard and reviewed.

When discussing the issues of education and employment, Premier Li Keqiang indicated in the report that there should be a stronger focus on expanding employment and entrepreneurship and a more active employment policy should be implemented to stimulate employment through entrepreneurship. Since the number of college graduates this year will reach 7.65 million, the government’s plan to promote employment and provide entrepreneurship guidance should be implemented so as to promote employment and entrepreneurship via multiple channels, make good use of the unemployment insurance fund balance, increase the scale of steady employment funds, improve the re-employment of laid-off workers, provide underpinning assistance for urban personnel with employment difficulties, and complete vocational skills upgrading training for more than 21 million migrant workers.

The report also noted a need to develop higher quality and more equitable education and to increase investment in public education in China’s western, remote, and poverty-stricken areas, as well as vigorously advance modern vocational education and promote differentiated tuition exemptions for secondary vocational education. It also stressed the need to accelerate advances in distance education, expand the coverage of high-quality educational resources, improve teaching levels and innovation ability and promote the transformation of eligible normal undergraduate colleges and universities to application-oriented high schools. Finally, it recommended continuing to expand the scale of enrollment of major universities in poor, rural areas, implementing and perfecting the policy of sending the accompanying children of migrant workers to local schools and those policies regarding entrance examinations, and supporting and standardizing the development of private education.

Economic transformation depends on the skill level of workers

In recent years, the overall recovery of the world economy has been weak and the economic growth rate of the majority of emerging economies has fallen. In this context, the downward pressure on China's economy continues to increase. At the two sessions this year, how China's manufacturing and service industries will respond to economic restructuring and structural adjustment remained a hot topic.

To take the Pearl River Delta region as an example, its industrial restructuring has continued for eight years since 2008, still with no breakthroughs to date. The knowledge structure and professional skills of the practitioners have not fundamentally changed and the phenomenon of a "Shortage of Skilled Technicians" among industrial workers is still continuing in the region to this day. The adjustment of the industrial structure of the Chinese manufacturing industry is still progressing with many twists and turns.

Suzhou City has recently released the "2016 Catalogue of Annual Demand for Urgently Required Talents in Key Industries in Suzhou”. 181 job posts for urgently needed talents are listed, involving eight major industries, including financial services, technology services, modern logistics, new generation information technology, high-end equipment manufacturing, new materials, software, and integrated circuit (IC), among which the shortage index for 72 positions has reached level 5, classified as an urgent lack of talents.

In a process with increasing downward economic pressure and acceleration of structural adjustment, phenomenon such as higher rates of attrition do appear in some industries and enterprises, but occurring mainly in select individual regions and industries. On the whole, high quality workers are still badly needed in the long term. As a matter of fact, as high quality workers are the productivity of the main body of society, the level of ability of workers directly determines the pace of economic transformation.

From introduction of trade to introduction of knowledge

The reform led by the "Internet+ Manufacturing Sector" has put forward a new proposition for Chinese society. From the era of trade import and export in the 1980's, China's economy has now completed its original accumulation. Against the current backdrop of excess capacity in the low-end fields and a lack of technology in the high-end fields, the adjustment of the knowledge structure is even more important.

Appropriate introduction of international advanced vocational training and vocational education can not only help enterprises reduce brain drain, but also play a role in promoting the training of talents. At present, China's educational enterprises and training institutions still remain at the primary stage in skills training, which is still of some help for the promotion of employment. But for on-the-job personnel training and continuing education, it is very hard, especially for those enterprises who want to create a "Hundred Year Old Brand". After all, the initial influence of the founder only lasts for a few decades, so cultural heritage and professional talent training is fundamental for the sustainable operation of enterprises.

To take DEMOS, a French company, as an example, DEMOS is an industry leader in in-service education and training in Europe, which owns a considerable market share. In Europe and around the world it enjoys very high brand awareness and boasts around a thousand online courses with independent intellectual property rights, including courses on management, economics, marketing, finance, IT, HR management, administration, and logistics. Clients include Rolls-Royce, SIEMENS, Air France and many other well-known global enterprises.

It is noteworthy that recently the French DEMOS Group was acquired by a Chinese education company, which is looking to step up promotion in the Chinese market in the future. Weidong Cloud Education Group from Qingdao, Shandong Province, recently announced its acquisition of the French DEMOS Group by taking a 73% proportion of its shares and introducing all of its advanced education system into China. At the same time, the dominance of Weidong Cloud Education will also expand from K-12 education to professional and international education fields.

From an insider’s point of view, the involvement of overseas professional vocational institutions not only injects a tonic for the development of China's online education industry, but also greatly fills in the current gaps in China's in-service education and training field.

Whether in terms of the rigid guidelines for policy planning or the soft support for the infrastructure, the basics for restructuring are to rely on the wisdom and ability of your people. Enhancing the skills education and professional vocational training for grassroots workers can effectively promote labor employment and optimize the industrial structure. The ultimate beneficiary is not only a business, but also the necessary condition for building a harmonious society.