By Ding Gang Source: Global Times Published: 2017-1-18
The scramble for manufacturing is in essence driven by a desire for jobs. When US President-elect Donald Trump has tried hard to stop American businesses from being outsourced and attract foreign investment to the US, he wants to provide more employment opportunities for Americans.
In the era of globalization, vying for technology, market and capital is turning into a competition for jobs and personnel. This is more than just an economic issue. It is also a political one since employment lays the foundation for governance and leads to social stability.
This applies to both developed and developing countries. Employment is the top priority for any government, and retaining and creating jobs depends upon occupational education.
A prominent feature of globalization is that the global labor market has become more fluid. Under the circumstances, it is essential to have a strong labor force in order to compete in the global market.
Underlying the ostensible shortage of jobs is a lack of personnel that can meet the requirement of certain positions. For instance, there are numerous jobs in the US technology sector, but very few skilled workers are qualified.
According to a survey last year, 84 percent of US executives think that there is a serious shortage of technical personnel, six out of 10 jobs are vacant. Although some developing countries lag far behind in technology development, they also lack personnel who are suitable and willing to take on a long-term job.
The sizable population in Asia`s developing nations, including China, has shaped its huge potential in manufacturing. But a large quantity doesn`t necessarily mean high quality. The level of technology development and attitudes toward work will decide where these countries stand in the global manufacturing and supply chain and whether they can break through the dreaded middle-income trap.
As developed nations like the US and European countries turn to more conservative economic policies, the global manufacturing and supply chain will be realigned. This makes it pressing and crucial for Asia to promote occupational education.
In developed countries, industries from manufacturing to agriculture are all being reshaped by data science and cloud computing. New jobs require new skills, which in turn prompts training providers and employers to adopt new methods and means.
While developing countries have to expand occupational education and enhance people`s skill set, they need to train more technical personnel that meet the requirement of national development and to improve the outdated structure where comprehensive education outranks occupational education, so that more people are able and willing to work in the manufacturing industry.
In China, the fundamental purpose of occupational education isn`t to cultivate talents, but to ensure that China has sufficient number of skilled workers in fields such as manufacturing, high-speed railway construction, urban rail transit, civil aviation, modern logistics, e-commerce and tourism services.
As a manufacturing powerhouse, China`s development hinges on whether and how its education system can be more closely connected with the industry. In this sense, Trump`s challenges to China can precisely be translated into the driving force for the development of our manufacturing industry.
The author is a senior fellow with the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.