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How Shandong Institute of Commerce and Technology, China meets talent and technology needs

How Shandong Institute of Commerce and Technology, China meets talent and technology needs

NCEE recently welcomed Shandong Institute of Commerce and Technology (SICT), China as a member of the Global Alliance of Entrepreneurial Universities. In this article, SICT explains how they have developed a specialised curriculum and talent training programme focused on areas like green refrigeration technology and intelligent logistics to cultivate skilled technicians for the cold chain sector. This has resulted in high graduate employment rates and satisfaction among hiring companies, and robust industry partnerships.

The Modern Logistics Management program at Shandong Institute of Commerce and Technology (SICT), a national key specialty in China, is strategically aligned with the requirements of intelligent transformation and upgrading of the domestic cold chain logistics sector. To cultivate high-caliber technicians needed for the intelligent cold chain logistics industry, we have devised a talent training model anchored in green, energy-efficient refrigeration, and intelligent control technologies to improve operational management capabilities across all aspects of cold chain logistics by using a project-oriented, multi-collaborative educational approach. We are committed to ongoing reforms and improvements in our talent development model, which result in marked improvements in our students’ internship and practical training conditions, a significant uplift in our teachers’ expertise and social service capabilities, and a consistent rise in the quality of our graduates’ employment.

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1. High-Quality Development of Talent Cultivation

The Modern Logistics Management program, based on industry and enterprise needs, is committed to nurturing high-quality technical professionals, building high-level specialties at both national and provincial levels in China, and removing barriers among specialties such as refrigeration and air conditioning technology, cold chain logistics technology and management, modern logistics management, and electrical automation technology. We work to build a professional platform, where professional core courses and professional extended courses are available, shaping a distinct, professional curriculum system. A scientific and efficient talent training program has been provided for students majoring in cold chain logistics. Over the past three years, the employment rate for our graduates reached over 98%, with employment spanning listed companies, industry leaders, and specialized and new “Little Giant” enterprises. We have channeled a considerable number of top-notch skilled talents into the industry and enterprises, with over 95% of graduates choosing a job that matching their major at college, and employer satisfaction exceeding 99%.

SICT has partnered with the INZONE Group, a leading retail chain enterprise with 74 large-scale stores, over 120 convenience chain supermarkets, a total operating area of over 2 million square meters, and over 110,000 employees. The group has consistently held its position as a leading player in the retail industry in Shandong Province, ranking among the top 10 in the department store sector and the top 30 in the retail industry across China for consecutive years. SICT is working with INZONE Group to build a mixed-ownership cold chain logistics industry college, aiming to upgrade and transform the industry college. SICT has established a close partnership with the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing (CFLP), the sole comprehensive industry association for logistics and purchasing in China established upon approval by the State Council and headquartered in Beijing, to ensure the scientific evaluation of talent training quality. The main mission of CFLP is to promote the development of China’s logistics industry, accelerate the reform and advancements in government and corporate procurement, as well as the circulation of means of production, and complete the tasks entrusted by the government. Additionally, SICT strengthens cooperation with local governments to ensure that talent cultivation is aligned with regional needs. Through innovative talent development model, SICT strives to nurture versatile engineering and technical professionals, facilitating a deep integration between expertise and industry development, and give play to the important role of the industry college in serving local industrial development.

In terms of international cooperation, SICT works to develop national teaching standards, talent training programs, and structured curriculum systems for cold chain logistics technology and management, and refrigeration programs. Specifically, SICT has joined hands with China University of Technology to cultivate students specializing in modern logistics management. Leveraging its unique curriculum system, SICT actively contributes to the advancement of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor by collaborating with Pakistan to establish standards for the construction of training rooms in modern logistics management and cold chain logistics technology and management, serving countries along the Belt and Road.

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2. High-caliber Teaching Staff Building

SICT actively seizes the new opportunities in vocational education development, and leverages its traditional advantages of inheritance and cooperation, to fortify the self-growth of the innovation team. After in-depth analysis of the strengths of team members, and specialized division of labor, SICT has established a team for specialized and refined development. All team members stay united and tackle challenges head-on, with external experts serving as consultants for team building. The team leader makes overall plans, while the standard development group, teaching reform research group, curriculum reform practice group, and technical service group decompose tasks according to team building tasks and acceptance criteria in different time periods, develop work standards and plans, and execute tasks in an orderly manner. Driven by the national-level teaching innovation team, our teaching staff has grown rapidly, members of whom have made presentations at provincial teaching and research work conferences, enhancing our industry influence and vigorously fostering the internal growth of the innovation team.

To strengthen inter-school teacher training cooperation, and enhance the construction of key bases for teacher training in the country’s vocational education, SICT has created a “dual-teacher, dual-competence” national-level team collaboration community together with ten other high-level vocational colleges, the enterprise integrating industry and education Eternal Asia Supply Chain Management Limited (established in 1997 in Shenzhen, with a registered capital of 70.82 million yuan. The enterprise has established an IT-empowered supply chain service platform integrating import and export, procurement, sales, warehousing, and logistics distribution to improve customers’ supply chain operational benefits) and other entities. In 2022, SICT was listed into the second batch of teacher training bases for innovation teams in national vocational education. Following the professional growth pattern of vocational education teachers, SICT has developed training packages for vocational education teachers. By creating “online + offline” communication platforms, a training system that connects multiple locations and modules organically, involving both enterprises and the campus is established. It has provided opportunities for members of the community to learn and progress together, and completed over ten national-level teacher training sessions in the last three years.

A development mechanism for the diverse evaluation of teachers’ development is established; an academician workstation, a skill master studio, and a program development expert guidance committee are founded; developing standards, assessment plans, and phased improvement plans are carried out in parallel, and a self-evaluation index system is created. Teachers are trained for improving abilities from various aspects such as courses, competitions, school-enterprise cooperation, and international exchanges, high-level professional leaders and young and middle-aged experts are cultivated at multiple levels, the achievements of team members are further diversified, the levels of achievements are effectively upgraded, and the personal title evaluation has developed by leaps and bounds.

3. Building of the Social Service System

SICT maintains a close partnership with leading enterprises in the cold chain logistics industry to promote scientific and technological progress and improve social benefits in the field of cold chain logistics through scientific research projects. This partnership is instrumental in addressing numerous challenges within the cold chain logistics sector and also facilitates the practical application of research findings, delivering safe and reliable solutions for the production, processing, storage, transportation, and sales of crucial commodities such as agricultural produce, food, and pharmaceuticals.

SICT has established the Agricultural Product Supply Chain Engineering New Technology R&D Center for Colleges and Universities in Shandong Province and the Key Green Cold Chain High-End Equipment Engineering Technology Laboratory in Jinan, fueling the advancement of the specialty of modern logistics management. They have provided a platform for participation in social studies and open sharing projects, cultivated a substantial number of high-level talents in cold chain logistics for the society, and provided a comprehensive service system for cold chain logistics enterprises. As a result, the service quality and market competitiveness of cold chain logistics enterprises have been improved.

SICT has integrated the Good Servicing: Flammable Refrigerants Quick Guide from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Good Practice Training System for Refrigeration and Air Conditioning from Germany’s BFS, and adapted them to local contexts, to carry out technical skill training programs for enterprises, thereby leading the industry’s technical skill development. It also empowers businesses to go globally, having trained more than 1,200 corporate staff. The school has the “National Training Center for Good Practice in the Refrigeration Repair Industry”, backed by the Multilateral Fund of the Montreal Protocol under the UNEP and endorsed by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of the People’s Republic of China. The center undertakes projects like the “Good Practice in the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Industry” from the UNEP and the “International Training Workshop on Fruits and Vegetables Preservation and Cold Chain Technology” from the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, offering technical training for government officials and enterprise technicians from nations including Liberia, Samoa, Ghana, Rwanda, and Sri Lanka.

4. Integration of Industry, University, and Research

The model of integration of industry, university, and research between SICT and cold chain logistics enterprises has been established to achieve resource sharing and complementary advantages. By harnessing the research capabilities of vocational education institutions, the development and application of cold chain logistics technology are promoted. Meanwhile, the practical operational experience of enterprises provides rich case study and practical opportunities for school teaching, thus forming a virtuous cycle. To leverage the function of collaborative education between vocational colleges and enterprises, based on mutual benefit and win-win cooperation between colleges and enterprises, SICT has established a dual management system with enterprises to explore an integrated training model for digital future-oriented logistics professionals, reconstruct a curriculum system that integrates general education, professional education, and skill education, develop an open and diverse practical teaching system, and put the job skills training experience into practice. By doing so, a series of related practical teaching projects has been created, providing students with platforms for improving their professional skills.

SICT has fully availed itself of the integration of National Agricultural Products Modern Logistics Engineering Technology Research Center, Academician Workstation, Key Provincial Laboratory, Provincial Agricultural Products Supply Chain Engineering Technology Research Center, Municipal Cold and Thermal Coupling Engineering Technology Research Center, and Institute-level Research Platform, leading the drafting of over 20 national standards, local standards, and industrial standards. In the past three years, SICT and its individuals have published 24 academic papers on core publications or above, won 22 awards at or above the provincial level, and obtained 30 software copyrights. 45 vertical research projects have been created and more than 1.2 million yuan has been raised for funding horizontal research projects. Over 80 students have been trained as research assistants, increasing research efficiency and laying a solid foundation for student research.

Innovative research addressing the challenges in cold chain logistics has been carried out, aiming at improving cold chain logistics efficiency, reducing energy consumption, and extending the storage life of food, pharmaceuticals, and other products. According to estimates, the energy consumption of related realms has achieved a year-on-year reduction of 10% in the past three years, and innovative research achievements have provided strong technological support for the advancement of the cold chain logistics.

5. Significant Achievements in School-Enterprise Cooperation

Upholding the principle of serving the society with high-quality educational resources, SICT has made efforts to: provide corresponding technical consulting services for enterprises; help enterprises to eliminate low-end elements in cold chain engineering projects, cold chain logistics equipment, cold chain control, integration, operation and maintenance, and cold chain logistics operations; promote customized services for users, improve the operational efficiency of the cold chain industry, and facilitate the “supply-side” upgrade of smart cold chain industry, thus gradually highlighting the brand effect of specialties. “Taishan Industrial Leading Talent” project is introduced in a flexible manner and a skill master studio is established.

SICT has built cooperation in a wide and deep range with over a hundred well-known universities and enterprises in China including Shandong University, Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, and BlueSword Intelligent Technology (founded in 1993, it is a leading domestic supplier of end-to-end intelligent logistics system solutions, with over 100 independent innovative achievements, multiple national-level honors and qualifications, and a self-built high-tech logistics equipment and technology industrial park. Its business covers the entire industrial chain of logistics system, from planning and design to construction and operation). On the basis of enterprise experts committing to the theoretical and technical research of macro and micro logistics system planning, enterprise logistics information system construction, logistics software design, logistics technology equipment and other logistics fields, SICT has collaborated with enterprises to develop specialty solutions, with an increasing proportion of enterprise mentors participating in the entire process of talent training program development, research project application, and teaching practice guidance.

The on-campus productive training base has been established to improve the quality of talent cultivation. SICT has cooperated with BlueSword Intelligent Technology, a leading domestic enterprise in the field of warehouse logistics and automatic sorting systems with logistics robots as its core, to build a productive training base. Smart logistics equipment production is set as the shared training project for specialties, integrating the advanced manufacturing process of the enterprise with students’ training process, and achieving the effect that students’ assignments are aligned with industrial products. SICT has conducted the joint cultivation of field engineers with many enterprises, including Moon Environment Technology (founded in 1956, it is a diversified and international comprehensive equipment industrial enterprise. Its main business covers cryogenic freezing, central air conditioning, environmental protection heating, energy and chemical equipment, precision castings, smart services, hydrogen energy development, etc. In recent years, it has been successively rated as one of the Top 30 Enterprises with Core Competitiveness in China’s Machinery Industry, Top 100 Enterprises of National Machinery Industry, Meritorious Enterprise of Equipment in China, and Demonstration Enterprise for Ozone Layer Protection.), JD Group (officially entering the e-commerce field in 2004, officially listed on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange in May 2014 as the first comprehensive e-commerce platform from China to successfully go public in the U.S., and listed for the second time on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in June 2020.), and VX Logistic Properties in Zhuhai (with its core business focusing on six major urban agglomerations in China, covering 47 major cities, owning over 160 logistics parks, operating over 40 professional cold chain logistics parks nationwide with a total warehousing scale exceeding 12 million square meters, and serving over 1,500 enterprises.). During cultivation, practical training and theoretical course content are integrated, and the dual mentor guidance mode combining teachers and enterprise engineers is set as a norm, thus enhancing students’ hands-on abilities.

The construction of modern logistics management program has brought significant benefits for the development of the cold chain logistics technology service industry. First of all, the professionals cultivated can provide strong human resources for cold chain logistics enterprises and promote industrial development. Next, technological innovation can improve the efficiency and quality of cold chain logistics, further ensuring the quality and safety of products vital to the people’s livelihood, and create social value. Furthermore, it is predictable that the establishment of the service system and the integration of industry, university, and research will optimize resource allocation, promote industrial upgrade, and drive local economic development.

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