Equal opportunity essential for those with practical skills

A worker works at the practical training center of a vocational school in China. [Photo/CHINA DAILY]

One of the biggest fears of many Chinese parents I interview is that their children won’t do well in high school and college entrance exams, and end up in a vocational institution.

In China, students usually attend regular high schools, vocational colleges and universities based on their entrance exam results, and those with lower scores can only attend vocational schools.

The deep rooted stigma attached to vocational education is due to a number of factors. Many parents feel that a professional degree equals hard work for low pay, that these students have failed and they will not have a bright future attending such schools.

Some parents even called for the abolition of vocational secondary schools, which was ruled out by Ministry of Education officials.

The officials said vocational schools promote the diverse development of students and play an important role in boosting employment, regional economic development and improving people’s livelihoods.

The stigma attached to vocational schools also means that it is difficult for them to attract the best and brightest students.

However, after talking to students from vocational schools and colleges, I realized that they were talented in their own way and could also enjoy a bright future.

Not everyone is born with a keen interest in academic research, reading books, or attending a top university to earn a degree.

Some students like to read and learn from books, while others prefer to learn how to cook or fix a car. It is unfair to say that the first group is more valuable or smarter than the second.

Youth unemployment remains a major challenge in China, with the jobless rate among 16-24 year olds reaching 19.3% in June.

Vocational school teachers told me that their graduates had no problem finding jobs and that the employment rate for these graduates had been above 95% for many years. However, graduates from these schools still face obstacles in gaining promotion, as many companies and government institutions place great importance on the academic background of employees.

While the revised Vocational Education Law stipulates that graduates of vocational schools and regular schools should be given the same opportunities for employment and career development, and also calls for measures to be taken to improve social status and salaries. technical workers, the implementation of the law will take time.

China has built the largest vocational education system in the world, which produces about 10 million graduates every year. Students who have practical skills deserve an equal opportunity to excel.