By Marcus Leach

A groundbreaking agreement outlining how the UK and China will work together to boost vocational learning in both countries has been announced.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed during an official visit to Beijing, China, by Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning Minister John Hayes.

The MoU will provide the basis for deepening our collaborations on vocational education. The agreement will last for the next three years.

“There are already many examples of very productive collaborations across China with UK awarding organisations, colleges and training providers working together with their Chinese counterparts. This MoU builds on this positive foundation with the aim of developing this relationship even more," the Skills Minister said.

“It will open up a fantastic array of valuable and enriching opportunities for vocational education colleges and other organisations in both the UK and China.

“I am particularly pleased with the Chinese interest in our apprenticeship model. Apprenticeships are at the heart of the British Government’s approach to vocational education.”

The five key areas of activity will be:

- Trials of apprenticeships in China drawing on UK models and expertise
Expanding the mutual recognition of qualifications and vocational education providers.
- Support for institutional partnerships including joint course development and student / teacher exchanges.
- Joint development of e-learning and remote learning facilities.
- Sector specialists from the UK and China working together to develop curriculum material and training resources.

The MoU follows detailed discussions between Ministers in both countries. A UK-China Education Summit took place in November 2010 where Education Secretary Michael Gove signed a broad Partnership Agreement on education, including a commitment to explore deeper ties on vocational education with the Chinese. In June this year, Prime Minister welcomed Chinese Premier Wen and his delegation to the UK for the UK-China Summit.

Following his stay in Beijing, John Hayes will visit Hong Kong for two days. He will meet Ministers to discuss the educational reforms in Hong Kong and attend a conference on learning in a globalised world. He will also visit the Hospitality Industry Training and Development Centre and Chinese Cuisine Training Institute of Vocational Training Council.

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