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How China builds a skilled workforce in rural vocational schools

By Taddeo Bwambale

Added 28th July 2016 07:42 AM

Skilled human resources have been behind Tibet’s rapid expansion.

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Students work on an improvised car assembly line as a group of foreign reporters visits a vocational school on a government organised tour in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, China, last year. (Reuters)

Skilled human resources have been behind Tibet’s rapid expansion.

At a school on the outskirts of Lhasa City in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, students clad in camouflage uniform and helmets erect a brick wall within minutes.

It is not hard to notice that the men and women at work are just teenagers, yet the speed and dexterity of their craftsmanship clearly defies their youthful looks.

Lhasa No.2 Middle Vocational and Technical School is one of the top schools in Tibet’s capital, Lhasa, home to about 830,000 people, majority of them ethnic Tibetans.

While the region does not enjoy the economic status of China’s major provinces like Beijing, Shanghai and Jiangsu, Tibet is growing at a rapid pace, in part due to huge gains in education.

In Tibet, students are entitled to 15 years of free compulsory education, compared to nine years of free school accorded to children in developed cities.

And it seems the local government in Tibet found a clue on how to turn the free school into an opportunity to expand its human resources, largely through vocational education.

Inside the sprawling campus of Lhasa Middle School, students in one class connect circuits and assemble electrical parts in an engineering class, with the guidance of an instructor.

Another group of students is busy at work, carving images and designs from blocks of wood to produce decent artworks, while another group carves steel plates and folds bands of iron.

Over the last 30 years, China has taken leaps in science, engineering and technology, building a large profile in construction of large-scale infrastructure projects.

Skilled human resources have been behind Tibet’s rapid expansion, with a vast network of 78,000km of railway; highways, tunnels, bridges and airports linking to other parts of China.

One other cohort at the school puts up a performance showcasing traditional Tibetan culture while another team takes part in practice drills in the hospitality services management.

It is not strange that Tibet, a region of 3.2 million people attracts over 20 million visitors from across China and abroad, much in part due to its hospitality and unique terrain.

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