On October 28th, 2022 the Inaugural Meeting of the Skillman Asia-Pacific Preparatory Committee took place.
The event, launched by Education Plus and UK China Council involved Chinese Vocational Education Centers and the Skillman network, which has developed a network of advanced industrial companies, colleges, vocational universities, training providers, experts in government, ministries of education and skills, and teachers and researchers in vocational education, across and beyond Europe. The meeting is embedded in a wider initiative aimed at connecting the Asia Pacific area with Western countries through the cooperation between Chinese vocational institutions and the Skillman network.
Giovanni Crisonà, Skillman leader, opened the event by explaining how Skillman commits to supporting the development of colleges in China to the next stage with the highest global quality and standards, through the latest practices in apprenticeships, workplace learning, and workplace assessment, and, in consultation with the most advanced industries, teaching cutting-edge skills that our economies and countries need.
After him, Valentina De Vico, Skillman Project Manager, introduced to the audience the history, values, and future commitments of the Skillman network, with a speech in Chinese.
At last, Dr. Urs Hauenstein, President of International Council ICEM, Swiss Seiko Quality Centre SQCQ, Board Member of Skillman, Visiting Professor of Management and Education for the Future, University of Lincoln, opened an extensive debate about the future of learning and ethical values that need to sustain the principles lying behind learning approaches.
The Skillman Asian-Pacific initiative: behind the scenes
Preparations are underway for the launch of Skillman Asia-Pacific, with a headquarters base in China but with a potential reach across the wider Asia-Pacific region.
The concept of ‘craftsmanship’ is at the heart of this new initiative. In Chinese culture and policy, this is a multi-faceted concept. In part, there is a national drive to raise quality in China’s manufacturing and to build a capability for precision which is absent in some manufacturing sectors. However, precision, attention to detail, and pride are important attributes in the Chinese idea of the ‘craftsman spirit’, which runs deep in the tremendous and rich historic traditional crafts of China.
The Skillman Asia-Pacific initiative will be a catalyst to enable the fusion of these ideas – showcasing and celebrating the excellence of China’s traditional skilled making and artisanship, and using this as a basis for a new culture of commitment to high quality, advanced skills, and precision in China’s 21 st century manufacturing.
Skillman.eu and Skillman Asia-Pacific together represent a powerful idea of a global skills alliance – an international network for world-class vocational education, that can promote advanced skills, and champion high quality and an international ‘craftsman spirit’.
This initiative emerges from work done over the past 3 years in China by UK-based Ecctis, who operate the UK’s national agency for the recognition of international qualifications and skills, as well as conducting skills benchmarking and education development work worldwide. Ecctis, through a Chinese partner company based in Beijing, Nalike, has been working with over 40 leading vocational colleges in China, to benchmark and develop their 3-year vocational diploma programs to international standards. Some of these colleges presented their activities and work to the Skillman International Forum 2021.
In total, there are over 1,000 higher vocational colleges in China, with strong links to commerce and industry, responsiveness to employer needs, and excellent resources and facilities. These important colleges, and the enterprises with which they work, will form the basis of the new Skillman network in China and Asia-Pacific. A preparatory committee for Skillman Asia-Pacific, comprising leaders and key persons from these organizations, is now being created.
The practical activities for Skillman Asia-Pacific are now being devised. Plans include the development of blueprints and systems for use by colleges in China to embed high quality in their programmes and also systems for use by enterprises to raise quality in products and processes, drawing from some of the best of Europe – the industrial design of Italy; the precision manufacturing of Switzerland; the high quality of Germany. To promote excellence in craft, making, and artisanship, the ambition is to create an East-West global alliance and network of craft teachers and craft practitioners that can draw from different artisan traditions, share best practices, and formulate new concepts of excellence. Skillman Asia-Pacific will be a platform for global skills competitions that can bring together East and West. A global Skillman network will be an important facilitator and enabler of exchange – exchange of ideas, concepts, knowledge, traditions, and best practices – to build new shared understandings and models of advanced skills, quality, and craftsmanship for the 21 st century.