Education in China: Experts want college curriculum shake-up

As more young people elect to stay longer at colleges and universities because of the shortage of job opportunities, some education experts and company executives are saying that the current Chinese college education system is too academic to help young people find work. “We should introduce more vocational programs and market-oriented approaches to our college education system. This could help more students find jobs and better adjust to the world outside,” Xu Peili, an official with Shanghai Second Polytechnic University, told Shanghai Daily.

Company executives agreed, saying they found a large number of newly employed graduates were too “theoretical” and had to spend a long time learning to meet their job requirements. “We also find many of our college graduates set their job expectations too high and become easily depressed by setbacks,” Xu said.

As a member of the Shanghai’s top advisory body, Xu said she planned to suggest that local government expand internship programs and provide better incentives for students and companies.

“If the period for government-organized internships is extended and better incentives are offered, students will have more time to learn from practical work experience,” she said.

The education authority said 96,456 people from throughout the country sat for post-graduate entrance examinations recently, competing for places at 54 Shanghai colleges and institutions. There were 6.6 percent more candidates than a year earlier. Of these 27,300 of them have a chance at winning a place at one o Shanghai’s city colleges.

Nationally about 1.25 million Chinese students sat the examinations competing for hundreds of thousands of openings. More than half, won’t be able to continue their education.

The local education authority said not only were more graduate students trying to continue studies at college, but more company employees in Shanghai were also seeking to return to study for post-graduate degrees. A worsening job market caused by the global economic crisis is the main reason.

As the global economic downturn starts to take effect on recruiting especially within the city’s financial-sector, more graduates and “while-collar” workers are feeling affected, officials with the Shanghai Education Commission said. A large number of college graduates try to find a career in banking, financial and multinational businesses and now more are seeking a post-graduate education to postpone having to find a job and to increase their chances at finding a better job in the future.

More than 150,000 students will graduate in Shanghai this year. Local government departments are planning policies to stimulate recruitment in the city.

By Itamar Medeiros

I'm a Strategist, Branding Specialist, Experience Designer, Speaker, and Workshop Facilitator based in Germany, where I work as Director of Design Strategy and Systems at SAP and visiting lecturer at Köln International School of Design of the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

Working in the Information Technology industry since 1998, I've helped truly global companies in several countries (Brazil, China, Germany, The Netherlands, Poland, The United Arab Emirates, United States, Hong Kong) create great user experience through advocating Design and Innovation principles.

During my 7 years in China, I've promoted the User Experience Design discipline as User Experience Manager at Autodesk and Local Coordinator of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) in Shanghai.

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