Jia Shaohua is an educator at a vocational school with about 8,000 students. He is offering a radical solution to China’s employment crunch: he teaches his students not just the skills they will need to find jobs, but how to create jobs of their own.
Jia is at the forefront of efforts to make higher education more relevant to China’s job market at a time when an economic downturn means university graduates face bleak prospects.
Jia is helping his students set up their own online shops to learn business and management skills.
Jia, vice-president of the Yiwu Industrial and Commercial College in the eastern province of Zhejiang, said, ‘What’s the weakness of the Chinese education system? It’s as though we’re trying to train swimmers in a classroom. They can all pass the test, but once they see water, they start shivering. And when they get in the water, they drown.’
Jia says his e-commerce entrepreneurship classes, in which about a fourth of the college’s students participate, offer real-life skills to students who graduate better equipped to compete against the millions of other university students who enter the job market every year.
Reuters reports that Gao Yang, executive director of Junior Achievement China, a worldwide organization dedicated to teaching entrepreneurship through its network of volunteers.
Gao said that business executives can do a better job than teachers of showing students how to run a business.
Gao said, ‘These people bring the real world, they bring their business experience and expertise, and share them with their students. I think the volunteer model is a better one.’