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Developing nations benefit from Chinese expertise

By XU WEI and YANG CHENG (China Daily)

Updated: 2023-07-05

Workshops offer wide range of professional training

Handiso Selamu Yishihak, who comes from Ethiopia, spent most of his time last year in a Chinese laboratory fine-tuning his skills in using industrial robots. He knows there are high expectations for him to transfer this expertise to his fellow citizens.

He enrolled at Tianjin University of Technology and Education in 2019 for training in intelligent manufacturing and automation, as part of programs launched by China to help African countries improve the skills of their workforces.

His desire to put what he learned into practice increased after the university established a Luban Workshop in Ethiopia in 2021. The workshop was part of the professional training programs offered by China's vocational education colleges with the aim of sharing expertise.

"My country wants to cultivate well-skilled human capital for industry, especially in the private sector in Ethiopia and throughout East Africa. My mission is to be the best teacher returning home to pass on the knowledge I acquired in China," he said.

Like many African nations, the vocational education system in Ethiopia is still in its infancy, and sharing experience from China is vital to enable the transfer of technologies to small and micro businesses, he added.

To date, Chinese colleges have established 11 Luban Workshops in African countries, offering a wide range of professional training and help for the younger generation in these nations to build up their professional skills.

Named after Lu Ban, an ancient Chinese woodcraft master, the workshops have risen in popularity in recent years to become a centerpiece of the drive by Beijing to promote international cooperation on vocational education.

Liu Bin, president of the Alliance for the Development of Luban Workshops, said a crucial factor behind the flourishing vocational training programs is that they seek to meet surging demand for improved local labor forces as Chinese businesses and products go global.

A total of 27 Luban Workshops have been established in 25 countries, most of them in the developing world. The programs provide training in vocational skills tailored to meet the demands of host countries.

Another crucial factor underpinning the popularity of the workshops is the deepening cooperation between China and countries taking part in the Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI. "Advancing the BRI gave rise to the need for Luban Workshops, which has also given impetus to the initiative," Liu said.

Most of the workshops are located at vocational colleges in host countries, and they are usually established through partnerships between such colleges in China and their local counterparts. The Chinese institutions share their equipment, teaching methods and materials, and provide training for teachers.

Since the first Luban Workshop outside China was set up in Thailand in 2016, the 27 workshops established to date offer degrees to more than 6,100 students and temporary training programs for some 31,500 students. Liu said the workshops have also provided training for more than 4,000 teachers from host countries.

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