China encourages high-quality craftsmanship in new era

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Contestants are seen at the first Vocational Skills Competition of China in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, on Dec 11, 2020. [Photo/VCG]

On April 27, China granted 363 highly-skilled personnel the national labor awards at a mobilization meeting in Beijing, signaling the country's intention to encourage fine craftsmanship and build itself into a quality manufacturer in the new era.

The meeting, held by All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), honored 2,891 exemplary units and workers across the country ahead of the Labor Day.

Earlier this month, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for efforts to speed up the development of the modern vocational education system and cultivate more high-quality technical professionals.

As China's economy transitions from a phase of rapid growth to a state of high-quality development, its workers are facing new requirements.

In April 2016, Xi met with a group of intellectuals, model workers, and youth representatives in Hefei, east China's Anhui province, stressing the implementation of the spirit of craftsmanship in factories and workshops so as to produce high-quality products.

Such spirit has also been emphasized in many major policy documents. In 2016, the government work report proposed, for the first time, the pursuit of "the spirit of craftsmanship." A reform plan issued in 2017 stipulated that industrial workers should be trained to have firm ideals, good skills, innovative abilities, and a sense of responsibility and dedication. 

In 2017, the report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) stated that China should build an educated, skilled, and innovative workforce, foster respect for model workers, and promote quality workmanship. In 2020, the fifth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee proposed to launch special projects to train more top-level engineers and highly-skilled personnel. 

Given the support, China's industrial workers have gained more and more recognition. A growing number of them have taken part in various professional skill competitions such as the WorldSkill Competition. They have also embraced more opportunities in professional training, vocational education, and the awarding of skilled talent.

Gao Fenglin, a senior technician and fusion welder, is one of the main contributors to China's aerospace industry and made key breakthroughs in its manufacturing processes.

"To save China from being overly-reliant or falling behind technologically, we need to strengthen innovative research, improve the quality of our industrial workers, and train more craftsmen on a national level," said Gao, who is also ACFTU vice chairman.

Statistics from 2019 showed that China still faced a talent shortage of about 20 million people. In addition, although China is the only country in the world to have obtained all the industrial categories listed in the United Nations industry classification system, its manufacturing industry still stands at the middle and lower end of the global value chain. 

According to Gao, the shortage of technical workers and highly-skilled personnel have impeded China from transitioning into a manufacturer of quality.

Gao's view was echoed by Lyu Guoquan, head of the research office at ACFTU. "To move the Chinese economy up to the medium-high end of the global standard, the vocational skills of our workers should be improved toward the same level," said Lyu. He pointed out that due to China's shrinking working-age population, the country should work to translate its demographic dividend into talent dividend.

"We must train professional talent by ourselves," Lyu urged. "National-level craftsmen are the best of a country's skilled personnel. Their leading role can boost the development of all fields."

Still, Lyu noted that less focus should be placed on the quantity of such craftsmen. "We believe that craftsmen on a national level should possess exceptional professional skills and act as role models to boost public morale."

Lyu said that while economic growth requires cutting-edge techniques and skills, social progress relies on workers who are meticulous and strive for the best. 

"The spirit of craftsmanship helps to build sound social norms with extensive, long-lasting influence," Lyu stressed. "As China enters its new development stage, implements the 14th Five-Year Plan, and stands at the crossroad of the 'Two Centenary Goals,' promoting the spirit of craftsmanship is of great significance."

Gao also agreed that promoting the spirit of craftsmanship could help the society develop a good work ethic and thus keep making progress.

Content created in partnership with Science and Technology Daily.

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