Imagine a school where classes and teaching resources are sent to you, where the teaching model and contents fit perfectly with your profession, and where everything you have learned can be put to practical use.

Such a school is no longer a dream. In the autumn semester of 2014, the OUC engaged in wide cooperation with industries, enterprises and trade unions,together with its branches, industry and enterprise colleges, local colleges, and study centres. The pilot programme of the “Assistance Plan for the Cultivation and Development of New Industrial Workers (hereinafter referred to as the Assistance Plan) was launched to make degree and non-degree continuing education accessible to production and frontline on-the-job workers. With learning combined with application, and a school system connected with the staff training systems of the enterprises themselves, the industrial workers were able to realize their dream of easily learning knowledge tied to their profession, and quickly obtain the relevant certificates.

According to the Asistance Plan, all learners with graduation certificates at or above general high school, vocational high school, technical school,or secondary vocational school level can register for degree education. Those who have got the stipulated credits for graduation and at least one vocational qualification certificate or job skill certificate are allowed to graduate and are conferred a OUC graduation certificate with electronic registration by the Ministry of Education once they have been deemed to meet the ideological and moral requirements. The Assistance Plan will also launch special pilot “open courses”. On-the-job workers can register for their choice of courses and get completion certificates, or they can get vocational qualification certificates or job skill certificates according. Students who are eligible for degree education can have their course credits added up and apply for degree certificates according to graduation rules.

Customized learning for industrial workers

With China’s new economic model, enterprises are not only looking for skilled workers, but the new generation of workers themselves have a strong desire for personal improvement. The OUC’s Assistance Plan has created a service model that makes affordable on-the-job mobile learning accessible to enterprises, as well as an organizational method to “send subsidy, services, and contents” to industrial workers, offering tailored learning services.

The Assistance Plan set up the first digital enterprise study centre, Wanbao Modern Enterprise University, on December 30, 2014. This is a typical example of the application of Assistance Plan and an example of learning exclusively customized for industrial workers.

Wanbao Modern Enterprise University is a staff development centre integrating degree education, skilled training, advanced skilled staff assessment, and special occupation authentication, serving Wanbao’s 20,000 plus staff members through the platform of the OUC Guangzhou Wanbao Modern Enterprise University. Teaching is brought to the company for oriented cultivation and training, and the staff members are offered a one-stop education service that covers course selection, enrollment, entrance, learning, examination, certification, and subsidy and benefit application. A completely new education model for staff members has been adopted at Wanbao Modern Enterprise University, which has a modern enterprise training and service system in the enterprise itself, providing services to the workers via online distance education. For the next stage, the university will work with the OUC Guangzhou Experimental School to focus on developing degree education majors, vocational skill courses, and key job training geared to core positions within the enterprise. Classic courses will be digitized and included in the training content of the study centre. To this end, specialized subjects with Wanbao characteristics will be developed and be staffed with full-time management personnel in charge of the school’s routine work to help the staff understand what they have learned.  

With the establishment of Wanbao Modern Enterprise University, the forces of all parties will be combined to introduce education resources, quickly improve the

quality of enterprise staff training, and reduce training costs. Furthermore, staff members will gain a further understanding of the education welfare policies of Guangdong, Guangzhou and the enterprise trade union system so as to access time-saving, effective, convenient, and affordable education opportunities. Wanbao Modern Enterprise University will help Wanbao Group to build a learning enterprise, to train a batch of learning staff, to improve the core competencies of the enterprise, to develop a good brand as an employer, and achieve the peak of the practice of running universities by enterprises in China.

An incomparable advantage for university-enterprise cooperation

The OUC Assistance Plan is rich in content and strong in function. It gives higher vocational education and training for vocational qualification certificates and job skills to on-the-job staff. It offers training courses and learning resources for industry and enterprise workers and lifelong learning of the staff, particularly learner support through digital learning. Degree education as part of the Assistance Plan prioritizes majors reacted to the modern manufacturing and production services industry. The majors that are currently being offered are mainly for higher vocational education at the junior level.

The Assistance Plan has become a good opportunity to promote the integration of degree education and non-degree training, and to advance the development of open universities and the transformation of the RTVU system, as well as the transformation and upgrading of the services they provide to enterprises. The project has been progressing well since its initiation. The OUC is positively cooperating with industries and enterprises and developing “customized” certificate courses to meet the needs of industries and enterprises, so that students will be awarded the relevant certificates after completion of courses. In addition, through the credit bank, students are eligible to swap the credits from the professional qualification certificate and the post skills training certificates they have received for their future degree education studies.

The Assistance Plan serves the transformation and upgrading of enterprises and aids in the growth and development of staff members. It fits the needs of technological progress, changing production models, and public social services, and is committed to training high quality laborers and skilled staff who can be retained and used for production and service on frontline. It explores a new model and mechanism for the OUC to cooperate in running schools with industries and enterprises to promote the integration of the OUC teaching system and the staff training system of industries and enterprises, thus serving the construction of learning industries and enterprises. Finally, it is beneficial to fully solving the problem of enterprise staff who are poorly adapted to their positions, which cannot be said of other degree education. As a result, it is very popular with enterprises.

The Assistance Plan is driving the construction of the OUC and the transformation of the RTVU system. It explores a personnel cultivation model and quality guarantee mechanism for new industrial workers that embodies the concept and features of open universities. It stimulates OUC teaching reform and system development, and improves the comprehensive school running and teaching capacity of the OUC teaching system to serve lifelong learning for on-the-job workers. Based on the trial construction of a enterprise staff credit bank, and the accumulation, accreditation, and transfer of learning outcomes, an effective method of building a lifelong learning “flyover” for on-the-job workers has been explored, and an innovative outlet has been carved out for the transformation and upgrading of open universities.

A completely new model for staff education

In terms of curriculum setup, the focus is on offering majors that are relevant to the modern manufacturing and production service industry, in particular majors that are urgently needed for the transformation and upgrading of national and local industries. The majors embody the convergence of courses and industries, degree and non-degree education, and information technology and education teaching, and the integration of quality social teaching resources. The modularized, multi-level, multi-channel Assistance Plan course platform is built to fit learners’ demands for lifelong learning, and to enhance the adaptability, extensibility, inter-discipline, and lengthwise cohesion of the majors, on the basis of which training objectives have been selected.

In accordance with the demands of exploring a staff development model and mechanism for new industrial workers, the Assistance Plan has formulated a brand new staff development scheme, which gives priority to the design, organization, implementation, management, and evaluation of the teaching process. For example, a connection between the teaching process and production process is realized in the light of the learning characteristics of on-the-job workers. Development and utilization plans for Assistance Plan course learning resources have been created to push course learning resources through various forms, terminals and channels. The construction of practical teaching conditions has been strengthened to reform practical teaching methods and to seek and gradually shape a practical teaching model adapted to the on-the-job learning characteristics of workers. Course examination reform has been advanced to explore multiple course evaluation mechanisms, including procedural evaluation, performance evaluation, and social evaluation.

The Assistance Plan also includes the application of information technology in its teaching model. A teaching model with“six-network integration”as its prominent feature and core support is being explored, along with a one-stop service model integrating teaching, learning, testing, evaluation, and management. All the courses are operated on the OUC learning platform. The headquarters provides the branch schools and industry or enterprise universities with a course development environment and pertinent technology support; the industries or enterprises and study centres with institutional space; and the learners, teachers, and administrators with a student space, teacher space and management space respectively. Advancements have been made in the construction, integration and application of digital learning resources, and attention has been given to the development of “micro-lectures”, mobile learning courses, and the use of MOOCs and other formats, so as to provide rich course learning resources to learners.

Learners benefit from pilot implementation

Since the launch of the OUC Assistance Plan in 2014, many universities and colleges have joined the plan, including Guangzhou, Tianjin, Shanxi, Heilongjiang, Chengdu, Inner Mongolia, Shandong, and Shenyang RTVUs; Automobile College; Mechanical College; Software College; Textile College; and other industry colleges. Guangzhou Experimental School, Tianjin Binhai New District School, and Tianfu New District School have also been established to explore a new personnel development  model in close operation with local enterprises, and a great number of frontline workers have benefited.

Taking the Assistance Plan in Guangdong province as an example, during three months from January to March 2015, the Assistance Plan offered over RMB 136 million in tuition to staff members, training by various trade unions, and skilled training by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security of the People’s Republic of China (MOHRSS). By March 2015, the AssistancePlan had provided workers in 9631 enterprises with various education services, and test centres for degree education had been set up in over 30 enterprises. An enterprise learning service platform has been deployed in 1322 enterprises, sending subsidies and services direct to the workers. To date, eight educational institutions have participated in the Assistance Plan in a joint effort to create a practical project “oriented towards job application” and “integrating degree and vocational education”. Training contents are customized according to the training needs of enterprises.

Since Shanxi RTVU School of Mining Technology initiated the Assistance Planin May 2014, great progress has been made. So far, the school has completed specifications and learning instruction for all courses, as well as web page materials for the major, relevant course materials, training objectives and teaching plans, an implementation plan for practical teaching, the first trial implementation plan and others. A statement of intent for enrollment cooperative has been reached with Jinneng Group. Finally, three strategic principles–support from the OUC, social support, and enterprise perseverance – have been created to make substantial new progress breakthroughs in cooperation with enterprises. Since the school undertook the construction of the Coal Mine Security Management shared major, enrollment for the Security Management and Mining Engineering majors has reached 3841 students, contributing to the upgrading of mining enterprises and the improvement of miners’ skills.

                                                                                                        By Yu Hongchi, OUC