China's Lu Ban initiative: 'An excellent project' to upskill Europeans
China's Lu Ban training centers have been established in over 20 countries to provide local students with various skills, ranging from robotic machine operation, culinary knowledge to learning traditional Chinese medicine.
These training programs have been set up as part of China's effort to strengthen people-to-people exchanges under its Belt and Road initiative (BRI).
The first Lu Ban vocational center opened in Thailand in 2016. Since then that number has grown with centers in Asia, the Middle East and Africa – providing training for over 10,000 people.
Europe's first training center was established in Setubal, Portugal five years ago. Jointly built by China's Tianjin Vocational college of Mechanics and Electricity, and Portugal's Polytechnic Institute of Setubal.
This center just outside of the Portuguese capital Lisbon, has trained more than 400 students in electrical automation and industrial robotics so far.
'An excellent project'
Jose Lucas, a professor at Setubal Institute of Technology, has overseen the training center's growth since 2018.
"We received a large number of visiting students in 2019, not just Portuguese, but also many international students," Lucas told CGTN. "This helped make our Lu Ban workshop earn more recognition at home and abroad.
"We now have an increasing number of students, with many of our graduates having been employed. Some went to companies in Switzerland and Spain while others have entered large Portuguese companies. This is an excellent project."
Alexandre Geraldo has just finished his three-year training course and has secured an internship with Portugal's The Navigator Company which makes paper.
"I would've been required to have a master's degree to get my current job but my learning experience at Lu Ban workshop helped me get the long-term internship," said the Lu Ban graduate.
"I've learnt how to operate industrial robotic and automated equipment. I find the learning experience worthwhile."