Joint industry-focused education is the key to smart manufacturing



A Lenovo employee performs operating system testing at the company’s workshop in Hefei, Anhui province. [Photo/China Daily]

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As China pursues industrial upgrades and smart manufacturing, Chinese and foreign companies are stepping up efforts to cultivate versatile manufacturing and digital talents to better empower people in the face of the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These efforts come as China’s manufacturing industry puts more emphasis on shifting to high value-added areas, which generates new demand for digitalization and intelligence in the manufacturing industry, and thus puts more emphasis on manufacturing talent requirements.

Jonathan Woetzel, director of the McKinsey Global Institute, said that by 2030, around 220 million Chinese workers may need to change professions, and it is advisable to expand the coverage of education and skills development systems. to include not only student populations but also the overall enrollment of 775 million.

Government, industry and society as a whole must work together to promote skills transformation in China, Woetzel said.

China’s 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) emphasizes efforts to cultivate advanced manufacturing clusters and promote the development of key industries, including integrated circuits, aerospace, marine engineering, robots, advanced railway transport equipment, high-end electrical equipment, machinery engineering and medical equipment.

At the same time, China faces a structural employment supply and demand challenge, with companies struggling to recruit qualified staff and workers struggling to secure satisfying jobs. There is a shortage of high-level skilled manufacturing workers, experts have said.

To help address this issue, Chinese tech giant Lenovo Group has launched a “purple-collar talent initiative” to help cultivate talent for the new era of intelligence transformation.

According to Lenovo, “purple collar” talent refers to employees who meet the requirements of smart manufacturing, know the actual manufacturing process, understand the corresponding technical theories, and possess both practical operational and managerial abilities.

Qiao Jian, senior vice president of Lenovo, the world’s largest personal computer maker, said the company hopes the “purple-collar talent initiative” can help drive an industrial upgrade in China and to promote the development of high-quality manufacturing.

As part of the initiative, Lenovo said it will leverage internal sources such as supply chains and its charitable foundation to partner with universities and vocational colleges to train people for a wide range of jobs. manufacturing industries. Currently, more than 10,000 people benefit from Lenovo’s professional training initiative every year, and it aims to expand the scale so that more people can participate in the project.

“What we want to do at Lenovo is to strengthen the real economy through new information technology or intelligent transformation, and promote high-quality transformation, upgrading and development of the manufacturing industry. By 2025, China’s demand for ‘purple-collar’ talent will reach 9 million, and the talent gap between demand and supply will reach 4.5 million,” Qiao said.

She said that to meet this need, Lenovo is building an ecosystem of industry talent through student training and on-the-job learning, offering professional and hands-on courses, and offering educational programs and of training.

For example, the “New IT Industry College” developed by Lenovo Education creates courses based on Lenovo’s intelligent manufacturing industry technology and high-level skills of employees. Vocational colleges use educational content to promote industrial upskilling and scaled training for students, closing the loop between academic training and on-the-job requirements. The Lenovo Foundation provides opportunities for teens in rural and underdeveloped areas to enter vocational colleges to support future internships and jobs, Qiao added.

Lenovo is also stepping up efforts to reward front-line manufacturing workers at its factories to encourage more people to become advanced manufacturing talents. Yang Yuanqing, chairman and CEO of Lenovo, for example, said in March that it had set aside 80 million yuan ($12.56 million) to reward its frontline workers for their efforts to overcome challenges. caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure production.

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