24 October 2018

China and New Zealand discuss vocational collaboration

New Zealand’s progressive approach to vocational education, particularly in fostering student innovation, was the focus of an Auckland symposium attended by a large Chinese contingent earlier this month.

China NZ

New Zealand ITPs, PTEs and a delegation of 51 senior leaders from Chinese vocational education institutions attended the 6th Annual Sino New Zealand Model Programme Symposium to share research and discuss collaboration in vocational education. 

The symposium theme was fostering innovation and entrepreneurship skills in students at vocational and training institutions.

The head of the Chinese delegation, Mr Chen Qiaming, Chair of Council at Szenshen Polytechnic, said innovation and entrepreneurship skills are vital to China’s Made in China 2025 strategy and that Chinese TVET institutions must cultivate these skills in its students. For this reason, many Chinese institutions are looking to collaborate with New Zealand institutions for teacher and student exchanges and assistance with curriculum development.

It was apparent in discussions that Chinese delegates value New Zealand’s “integrated” multi-disciplinary approach and are keen to embed such approaches in their own education programmes. Besides an ongoing interest in vocational teacher training, there also seemed to be growing interest in work-readiness and English-language courses to help create an “internationalised” and employable workforce in China.

China’s appetite for establishing its credentials as a provider of international education also continues to grow – a number of Chinese representatives said hosting international students from New Zealand was a key priority for them.

ENZ’s Regional Director – China & North Asia, Adele Bryant, said the scale of Chinese representation there reflected the appeal of partnering with New Zealand.

“China’s interest in pursuing new opportunities with our vocational institutions is a testament to our reputation for creating creative and innovative thinkers and developing soft skills required for the modern workforce – as evidenced by New Zealand’s ranking first in the world for preparing students for the future.”

“It makes a lot of sense for our two countries to work together to leverage each other’s strengths.”

Tony O’Brien, Sino NZ Model Programme Director, said it was very unusual to get such a large group of senior leaders from China in New Zealand for such an event. It was therefore excellent to have so many New Zealand providers represented at the conference to network and form relationships with their peers in China.

ENZ Chief Executive Grant McPherson spoke at the forum, which was also attended by representatives from 11 New Zealand ITPs (NMIT, Weltec/Whitireia, SIT, WINTEC, UNITEC, Toi Ohomai, Otago Polytechnic, MIT, EIT, UCOL and NorthTec), four PTES (ACG, New Zealand Institute of Education, Tasman International Academies and Skills International), and delegates from the Industry Training Federation and New Zealand Council for Educational Research.

The Sino NZ Model Programme is part of the Strategic Education Partnership Agreement between New Zealand and China. It is a vehicle for deeper and broader collaboration between the two countries’ professional and vocational education and training sectors.

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