Electronics Industry Supports Student Workers
EICC Responsible Electronics 2016

Electronics Industry Supports Student Workers

EICC and Stanford University's REAP Develop Vocational School Credentialing System in China

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Dec. 15, 2015 – The Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), a nonprofit coalition of leading electronics companies dedicated to supply chain responsibility, today announced the results of a vocational school credentialing pilot program in China and other recent efforts to ensure student workers’ rights are protected. 

Today there is a significant labor shortage in China and many suppliers are addressing worker scarcity through the use of student workers participating in vocational education and training (VET) programs. However, not all vocational schools provide quality education and work experiences for their students, which sometimes results in internships and job placements unrelated to their studies or in poor working conditions.

To address these concerns, the EICC partnered with Stanford University's Rural Education Action Program (REAP) to create and evaluate a credentialing system for vocational schools in China. The EICC sponsored a full pilot credentialing system for VET schools in the Henan province that focused on a collaboration between vocational schools, the ICT industry and the local government to create a way to measure the quality of schools that were partnering with suppliers to the electronics industry. The Henan province was chosen because it is one of the most populated, has been designated as a “key province” for vocational education, and is often the primary source of labor for firms across the country.

In this pilot, schools became credentialed by meeting a strict set of criteria designed by REAP and approved by the EICC. The credentialing program had direct, statistically significant impacts on student educational outcomes:

  • Improved vocational skills by 55 percent
  • Improved math skills by 34 percent
  • Reduced school dropout by 15 percent

By establishing systematic monitoring and accountability for student outcomes, vocational schools have more incentive to provide quality education and safe and productive work experiences. Students, their families and the government will know which VET schools provide good opportunities and EICC members will know which schools are most desirable for recruiting purposes.

"The results of the EICC-REAP credentialing pilot program are clear and compelling. We have demonstrated that we can raise the quality of vocational education in China through policy changes," said Prashant Loyalka, Assistant Professor, Stanford University, REAP. "We look forward to working with the EICC and the government in China to create sustainable, long-term change that will benefit students and enable them to receive the education they need to live more fulfilling lives."

"The EICC and its members have been very active in addressing challenges faced by student workers throughout the supply chain," said Rob Lederer, Executive Director of the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC). "The VET credentialing program in China is another great example of the electronics industry leading the way on issues that affect young and vulnerable workers around the world."

In 2014 the EICC partnered with Hong Kong-based NGO Labour and Education Service Network (LESN) and the Nanjing University Law School Labour Law Legal Mediation Programme to produce a student workers management toolkit, designed to support the responsible management of student workers by electronics manufacturing facilities in mainland China. The toolkit, "Responsible Management of Student Workers: From Compliance to Best Practice," consists of a detailed analysis of relevant legal frameworks, a checklist, a flowchart and case studies. EICC member companies can access English and Chinese versions of the toolkit in the EICC eLearning Academy.

The EICC also recently updated its Code of Conduct, including the section on young workers, thereby closing loopholes and ensuring that students’ rights were better protected. The new version of the EICC Code, version 5.0, was overwhelmingly approved by members in the fall of 2014 and went into effect on April 1, 2015.

The EICC-REAP report, "Creating and Evaluating a Credentialing System for Vocational Schools in China," can be downloaded here from the EICC website and a video about the project can be viewed here. The results of the credentialing program and a proposal for its next phase will go to the EICC board of directors for review in January 2016.

About EICC

The EICC is a nonprofit coalition of leading electronics companies dedicated to the social, environmental and ethical responsibility of their supply chains. Our members commit and are held accountable to a common Code of Conduct and utilize a range of training and assessment tools to support continuous improvement. The EICC is comprised of more than 100 electronics companies, representing 17 different sectors from consumer brands to smelters, with combined annual revenue of greater than $3 trillion, and directly employing over 5.5 million people. For more information, visit www.eiccoalition.org and follow us @EICCoalition.

Media Contact:

Jarrett Bens, Director of Communications
Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition
Phone: +1 571.858.5721