The electronics industry has long relied on the creativity and energy of young people to lead innovation and engineering of the devices that consumers around the world enjoy on a daily basis. For decades, the electronics industry has invested in robust training programs for young people to continue this tradition of innovation.
In China, vocational education for teenagers and young adults is an important part of China’s educational and economic systems. Students at vocational schools often gain practical experience working at electronics manufacturing facilities in China, and these young people can have valuable contributions to the global electronics industry.
As young people, Chinese student workers have distinct rights and are also vulnerable to abuses. Furthermore, RBA member assessments show that too often Chinese student workers are inappropriately placed and utilized in facilities, such as being made to carry out tasks not related to their area of study or made to work excessive hours, denied leave or subject to insufficient health and safety protections.
In recognition of the potential positive impact of vocational education but concerned about protecting students’ rights and wellbeing, the RBA offers members tools and resources to support students' rights in their supply chains.
- Student Workers Management Toolkit: Developed in partnership with Hong Kong-based NGO Labour and Education Service Network (LESN), this toolkit aims to help human resources and other managers support responsible recruitment and management of student workers. RBA members can access the toolkit in the eLearning Academy.
- Strengthening our monitoring: Young people work in electronics manufacturing facilities under many auspices, from student workers and interns to apprentices, dispatch workers and employees. To ensure that our Validated Audit Process (VAP) correctly assesses the use of student workers in China and understands their special status under Chinese law and our own Code of Conduct, we strengthened our VAP audit protocol on student workers, tightening up the description of student workers to close loopholes.
- The RBA partnered with Stanford University's Rural Education Action Program (REAP) to create and evaluate a credentialing system for vocational schools in China. A credentialed school offers a higher level of education to students, confidence to RBA members that this highly talented yet vulnerable population of workers has proper oversight and gives the local government a way to assess the quality of their vocational program. The credentialing program had a positive and statistically significant impact on student learning, perceived learning (in academic and vocational classes) and general well-being. View our news release to learn more about this program and its results, and click here to read the Phase 2 final report. RBA members can access the list of credentialed schools here on SharePoint.