Chinese vocational schools need more students, more respect
Hu Chao, Kang Xiaoyu
02:44

Western banquet services, tea-making, flight attendant service and cooking are just some of the careers you might learn in one of China's many vocational schools.

20-year-old Zhao Qi now studies Western culinary arts at Taiyuan Tourism College in northern China's Shanxi Province.

"I've been a big fan of delicious food since childhood. I used to learn baking in some cake shops. Cooking always makes me happy," she said.

Zhao Qi was practicing cooking skills in school class. / CGTN Photo

Zhao Qi was practicing cooking skills in school class. / CGTN Photo

Now the college sophomore has become quite the cooking connoisseur. She has already won two medals at different national competitions. 

And she attributes her success to her strong interest in cooking, “Because you love it, you'll be more dedicated when you do it and will never feel bored or tired.”

Zhao is one of many students that the school feels proud of. Local officials say the employment rate for Taiyuan Tourism College students and alumni remains high. 

Students were having a class on flight attendant services in the Taiyuan Tourism College, Shanxi Province. / CGTN Photo

Students were having a class on flight attendant services in the Taiyuan Tourism College, Shanxi Province. / CGTN Photo

In recent years, the school has implemented a series of innovative reforms. Principal Ma Zhaoxing believes these reforms helped cultivate talent that the market needs.

He said they've deepened cooperation with enterprises by setting up a shared innovation center. They've also invited experts from different fields to teach their students. Also, their teachers have gone out to provide training to various social groups and enterprises. Thus with broadened horizons, their teaching skills have improved.

This year's government work report has announced several new measures to boost vocational education development. Topping the list, expanding enrollment by at least one million students.

Former student of Taiyuan Tourism College came back to teach food sculpture. / CGTN Photo

Former student of Taiyuan Tourism College came back to teach food sculpture. / CGTN Photo

But during China's ongoing two sessions, some members feel it's difficult for vocational schools to attract so many students. 

Principal Ma has the same concern, "In China, many people traditionally think that a vocational school isn't as good as a university. They are unwilling to go to a vocational school. But the fact is that we need more students to cultivate more talents that the country needs."

Ma's remark has revealed that in China, many prefer universities to specialized vocational schools. But the fact is that 70% of the nation's new workers each year come from vocational schools, according to China's Education Ministry. 

Students were learning tea-making art in the Taiyuan Tourism College, Shanxi Province. / CGTN Photo

Students were learning tea-making art in the Taiyuan Tourism College, Shanxi Province. / CGTN Photo

Experts say much of China's future depends on skilled talents. While many are happy to see the government putting more focus on vocational education, real development can only be achieved once social biases are eliminated and vocational education is given the respect it deserves.