Junior Research Fellow awarded a John Fell Fund award

11 March 2016

Junior Research Fellow Jenny Chan has received an award from the John Fell OUP Research Fund for her project, ‘Learning for Jobs: Internship, Vocational Education, and the Law in China’.

Social scientists have assessed the fast expansion, and commercialization, of Chinese education under market reforms since the late 1970s, and have delved specifically into the quality of vocational school teaching and classroom learning. There has been, however, scant attention to student interns as temporary or contingent workers in the actual workplace setting. Whereas in a few instances the poor working conditions of teenage interns were reported, employers had denied their responsibility. The use of interns as flexible and cheap workers is therefore a cause for concern.

Jenny Chan’s research will focus on learning for jobs in China. Relying on an interdisciplinary approach combining sociology, labour studies, education, and law, she will ask two main questions: (1) How is the organization of student internship programmes shared among companies, vocational schools, and local government departments? (2) In what ways are the occupational skills training of student interns different from those of regular workers?

She will employ interviews, supplemented with public policy analysis, to investigate whether the students’ studies are directly related to their assigned job posts during the internship, and sharpen comparisons of the nature and legality of internship programs, which are institutionally organized on a massive scale. While her focus is on China’s youth, internships are now a widespread practice around the world. At a time of slowing growth and ageing population, properly trained interns will play a central role in China’s development and far beyond.

Further information on the John Fell OUP Research Fund can be found on their website here.