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Yorkshire, Chinese Collaboration goes from strength to strength

14th September 2009 <b>Yorkshire,</b> Chinese Collaboration goes from strength to strength

Two years after its inception, the collaboration between a group of Yorkshire Further Education (FE) colleges and education providers in China continues to go from strength to strength.

Two years after its inception, the collaboration between a group of Yorkshire Further Education (FE) colleges and education providers in China continues to go from strength to strength.

A link-up between the Yorkshire and Humber Technical Vocational Education and Training Consortium (YHTVET) and the world’s biggest city – Chongqing, China – will see the development of a new vocational education and training system which ensures fit-for-purpose workers are produced at the end of their learning.

The Consortium was established in 2006 with the specific objectives of establishing long-term strategic partnerships between our region and China. In April 2007 a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Consortium and Zhejiang Province Educational Department. This partnership aims to link schools, colleges, education officials and businesses in the Province with FE Colleges and their partner organisations in the Yorkshire and Humber region to facilitate TVET development and transnational education links.

The relationship between YHTVET and China has been further strengthened through the China Skills Challenge Project led by Wakefield College to introduce the UK Apprenticeship model to Chongqing. Chongqing has had very close links with the Yorkshire and Humber region especially after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in August 2008.

The project was funded through the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) with a specific aim to introduce the concepts of the UK Apprenticeship framework to link academic study to vocational training and on the job training to create a fully skilled workforce within Chinese schools and colleges.

Although vocational education and training has recently become an important part of the Chinese education to address the identified skill gaps, the focus of vocational education has always been on academic theories taught in classrooms. This has been recognised by the Chinese government as a major challenge because vocational students play an increasingly important role in the economic and social development especially in inland cities. The members of the Consortium hope to share their joined up experiences in vocational education and training with Chongqing to work together in order to make a significant contribution to the challenges, whilst, at the same time strengthen the relationship between the two regions.

The project started in January 2009. The first trip to the city of Chongqing in China took place in early July 2009, which achieved a great deal in terms of understanding the educational needs of the city and raising the profile of the project to relevant stakeholders. The Consortium met with delegations from several Chongqing municipal government departments, such as Chongqing Education Commission, and Chongqing Foreign & Economic Relations Commission (COFTEC). They all welcomed this initiative and acknowledged the potential achievements through the project. The meetings had some constructive discussions about the differences of vocational education and training between the UK and China, which led to an expression of high level of interests in being part of the project. The Chongqing side was very supportive of the project and could not wait for the project to start.

By the end of the same month a Chongqing delegation led by Professor Li Shirong, Deputy Director General of COFTEC conducted an inward visit to the UK to seek further collaboration and forge solid relationships with targeted organisations. They visited the Doncaster College, one of the members of the Consortium, on 22nd July. The delegation was impressed by the work the Consortium has planned to undertake in Chngdu – the capital city of Sichuan province in China – through the PMI 2 funding, and the facilities and resources available across the Consortium.

The project has been funded through until March 2011. The Consortium plans to hold a conference in Chongqing in November 2009. The conference will focus on detailed discussion about the UK vocational education system, and the process of working with employers to ensure employer needs are met through new curriculum development.

Through the Consortium’s previous experience of working with Chinese vocational colleges, it has been learnt that there are clearly a lot major challenges faced by the latest Chins Skills Challenge project. However, the Consortium is looking forward to tackling these challenges by working in partnership with all of the stakeholders in Chongqing to improve the development and delivery of vocational education and training in China.

The YHTVET Consortium currently has 9 member colleges throughout Yorkshire and the Humber, including:

West Yorkshire
• Bradford College
• Calderdale College
• Kirklees College
• Leeds City College
• Wakefield College
 South Yorkshire
• Doncaster College
• Sheffield College
 North Yorkshire
• York College
 The Humber
• Hull College

To find out more about this project or the YHTVET Consortium, please contact Greg Chen at g.chen@wakefield.ac.uk

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