China has the world’s largest vocational education system. The number of vocational high school students (aged 16-18), however, dropped from a peak of 22.4 million in 2010 to 15.5 million in 2018, that is, about 40% of the national student population. By contrast, the number of high school students remained fairly stable over the same period, hovering at around 24 million. Dr. Jenny Chan’s project sought to understand the internship experiences of Chinese teenage students. Under the existing system, a 6-month workplace-based internship training is mandatory for a three-year vocational education program. The legal status of interns remains that of students, not employees. Dr. Chan argued that the educational and labor rights of interns are worthy of scholarly attention.
Jenny Chan (Ph.D. 2014) is an assistant professor of sociology at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and a recipient of Early Career Scheme funding awarded by the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong (2018-2022). She also serves as the vice president of the International Sociological Association’s Research Committee on Labor Movements (2018-2022). Dying for an iPhone: Apple, Foxconn and the Lives of China’s Workers is her first co-authored book with Mark Selden and Pun Ngai (Haymarket Books & Pluto Press, forthcoming in 2020).