Crafting a Career

 July 29, 2020
Crafting a Career
Visitors try their hands at gilding ink sticks of the age-old brand Caosugong, while a representative of the company introduces its various products.[ China Daily]

 

Prowess and imagination go on display during World Youth Skills Day, Zhou Wenting reports in Shanghai.

The "plastic toys" looked good enough to eat. Two cartoon pandas, with squinting eyes, smiling faces and a friendly chubby appearance, proved to be a popular hit among visitors to a professional skills event in Shanghai earlier this month.

Maybe the "no touch" policy offered a clue as to their makeup.

Created by Pu Xiao, 28, these models were actually made out of fondant and designed to look like characters from the animated film Kung Fu Panda.

Pu is a pastry chef at a vocational school in Shanghai and she presented a cake featuring these panda models at an event celebrating World Youth Skills Day on July 15.

The event was held by the Shanghai Human Resources and Social Security Bureau.

Crafting a Career
A child visitor learns how to maneuver a dragon shadow puppet at the event held in Shanghai. [China Daily]

 

Around 100 young people from districts around the city participated in the event, showcasing a variety of skills, from paper quilling (transforming strips of paper into decorative items) and traditional Chinese snack-making to more modern activities, such as those related to robotics and electronics.

The event was held as a prelude for the 2021 World Skills Competition, which will also take place in Shanghai.

Pu says the key to creating a vivid panda model lies in the facial expressions and the eyes.

"I referred to photos of pandas rather than cartoon images when making the models. A good piece of handiwork is a result of lengthy observation," says Pu, a teacher at the Shanghai Tangshishi Baking School.

Besides the cake, she also exhibited fondant flowers, which took her just two minutes to twist and fold into shape. Just like the pandas, Pu refers to real flowers before creating their fondant counterparts.

Crafting a Career
At an event celebrating World Youth Skills Day on July 15 in Shanghai, about 100 young people from the city's various districts display to visitors a variety of skills, such as (from left) making steamed stuffed buns, cocktail mixing and artistic carving of turnips and radishes. [China Daily]

 

The creativity is due to a greater emphasis being placed on vocational education. China has been particularly stressing the importance of it since 2014, hailing it as an indispensable path for young people to achieve self-realization.

From a macro perspective, vocational skills help to cultivate a diversified pool of talent, pass on techniques and skills and promote employment and entrepreneurship, President Xi Jinping said before a national conference on vocational education in Beijing in June 2014.

That same year, the World Youth Skills Day was established by the United Nations to highlight the importance of youth skills development and solve the common problems of unemployment and lack of job opportunities among young people, as well as to create better social and economic conditions for them.

The China team topped the rankings in terms of total medals, gold medals, and overall score at the last World Skills Competition in Russia in 2019, an indication of the significant progress the country has made in developing its technical expertise and manufacturing industries.

Crafting a Career
At an event celebrating World Youth Skills Day on July 15 in Shanghai, about 100 young people from the city's various districts display to visitors a variety of skills, such as (from left) making steamed stuffed buns, cocktail mixing and artistic carving of turnips and radishes. [China Daily]

 

Yu Hui, founder of the Shanghai Tangshishi Baking School, says that most of its students have had good career prospects after completing their studies. Some have even started their own businesses.

In addition to baking training, the school-which takes in around 600 students a year-also offers students courses on how to open their own bakeries. Practical training is also carried out in an actual bakery.

"The country's call for mass entrepreneurship and the need for diversified technical talent have changed the views of parents and wider society regarding vocational education. It is no longer seen as inferior to college education," says Yu.

Also present at the World Youth Skills Day event was He Wenquan from the cultural service center of Yexie town in Shanghai's Songjiang district. There, he led a group of masters who presented their bamboo weaving skills.

Crafting a Career
At an event celebrating World Youth Skills Day on July 15 in Shanghai, about 100 young people from the city's various districts display to visitors a variety of skills, such as (from left) making steamed stuffed buns, cocktail mixing and artistic carving of turnips and radishes. [China Daily]

 

To allow youngsters to gain more knowledge of the district-level intangible cultural heritage, classes of bamboo weaving have been included in the syllabus of two local primary schools and a college, he says.

Vocational education has contributed to economic growth and unleashed creative talent that would otherwise not have been tapped, he says.

It also caters to those whose skills are required for the manufacture of everyday items, including making lampshades, purses and bamboo crafts, he adds.

 

 (Source: China Daily)

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