|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
The PRC opened its economy and launched economic reforms in 1978, producing three decades of sustained growth. Gross domestic product (GDP) grew at an average annual rate of over 9% during this period, sufficient to lift more than 500 million out of poverty. With continued educational expansion, average educational attainment increased from 3.1 years in 1978 to 8.9 years in 2009. Despite impressive growth, inequalities among well-developed coastal areas and inland regions, as well as among social groups have also increased. Addressing imbalances in the PRC's growth to promote greater social harmony has become the main driver of the policy agenda as reflected in the government's Twelfth Five-Year Plan (2011-2015). In 2010, the PRC Government identified TVET as the key target for educational expansion to develop a skilled workforce, and approved the National Long Term Strategy on Education (2010-2020). Strengthening TVET will help to address a significant shortage of skilled workers in the PRC. It is estimated that between one-quarter and one-third of tertiary graduates and several million secondary school graduates cannot find jobs upon graduation each year. Making the TVET system more responsive to the labor market needs, and strengthening links between TVET and the private sector are essential measures to mitigate this mismatch. Stronger engagement of enterprises in skills development requires strengthening enterprise-school partnerships. While diverse initiatives in enterprise-school partnerships are emerging, a legal and regulatory framework to guide practices in this area is lacking. There is a need for policies to encourage school-enterprise cooperation as well as a set of policy frameworks and operational guidelines to ensure consistent development of school-enterprise partnerships and student internship programs at the local level.
Hunan, a province with a population of 70 million and located in the south central part of the PRC, is facing new challenges in transforming its economy. Urbanization, industrialization, agricultural modernization, and advancing information technologies are key strategies under the Twelfth Five-Year Plan. The urbanization level in Hunan was 44% in 2010, and is forecast to grow to 66% by 2030. Increased urbanization and the subsequent transformation of livelihood bases will require skilled workers. Further, the government's policy of geographical rebalancing of economic growth towards inland provinces has led to Hunan's emergence as an important industrial base requiring a large and multi-skilled work force. Hunan's GDP grew at 10.2% in 2010, and the Hunan Provincial Government (HPG) targets a 10% GDP growth for the period of the Twelfth Five-Year Plan. A critical task for HPG is to (i) improve productivity and competitiveness by fostering innovation and technology transfer; (ii) expansion and modernization of the services and the agricultural sectors; (iii) continued industrialization; and (iv) environmentally sustainable development, which requires significant investments in human capital. Since 2007, HPG has spearheaded TVET reforms and increased investments in TVET infrastructure. About 90% of the students enrolled in Hunan's vocational schools are from rural areas or low-income urban families. Investment in TVET development has played an important role in helping the disadvantaged people gain new skills and enjoy the growth benefits. Despite impressive progress, TVET development in Hunan is hampered by funding constraints; low quality of the training instructors; a shortage of investment for training equipment and facilities; low relevance of the training curricula to the labor market needs, particularly in secondary vocational schools in less developed smaller cities and counties in rural areas; and insufficient mechanisms for industry-school partnerships.
Special features. The project is intended to demonstrate good practices in TVET development by piloting in Hunan innovative approaches such as (i) strengthening TVET industry linkages by supporting TVET innovation incubators; (ii) institutional capacity building designed to support strategic planning and effective TVET management in areas ranging from TVET leadership, labor market analysis, skills mapping and forecasting, TVET planning and institutional development, financing, monitoring and evaluation, and managing diversity; (iii) introducing competency-based curriculum (CBC) and training of instructors; (iv) supporting greening of the TVET campuses by designing, constructing, and maintaining buildings that reduce energy and water use, while promoting sustainable practices such as reducing, reusing, and recycling resources (3R); and (v) developing an electronic TVET library to promote resource sharing between well-developed vocational colleges and less developed secondary vocational schools, and to enhance TVET coverage through distance learning. The project is categorized as effective gender mainstreaming and will include an in-depth analysis of gender issues, including gender barriers in TVET.
Strategic fit. The project aligns with ADB's PRC country partnership strategy and supports ADB's education policy and education sector strategies. The project supports the PRC's Twelfth Five-Year Plan, which prioritizes developing high-quality human resources, increasing scientific and technological innovations, and accelerating educational reform, including reform of TVET.