Online education in China grows with the development of Internet. In terms of its development course, the main form of online education at early stage is distance learning platform, such as the Koolearn of New Oriental Group put into operation in 2001, which symbolized the beginning of traditional training institutions entering online education market. Later other training institutions followed suit. Through integrating existing resources, they managed to launch diversified online educational products.
Vocational education is a kind of education to endow the educatee with certain knowledge and skills required by their professions through schooling or occupational training. According to the service objects of vocational education, there are two kinds of clients: companies which intend to improve the performance of their employees through training and individuals who want to get themselves prepared for future career through improvement of vocational skills.
China’s vocational education system covers a diversified range of programs, which can be generally sorted into two categories: education with degree and non-degree learning. Among them, vocational training belongs to the latter one. Vocational training is one of the most fiercely competitive market segments of online education in China nowadays, but it is also seen as the most promising one. At the beginning, online vocational education focused on IT courses, yet in recent years non-IT ones are also on the rise. Courses such as finance, accounting, foreign languages and public servant examination related become the most popular ones as they are aimed at helping the educatee master skills, acquire certificates or pass exams. Compared with offline training classes, online education offers learners higher efficiency, better convenience as well as a cheaper price.
As long as online courses provide quality teaching with reasonable price, they can attract large numbers of clients because vocational education subscribers have a stronger need for learning, and higher affordability. Meanwhile as educatees’ learning effect can be directly seen from their performance at workplace or at related qualification examinations, it is also good for the brand-building and spread of courses among target clients.
Although the overall market size of online vocational education & training in China stood at only a bit more than CNY 4 billion in 2015, the potential for future development is huge. It is estimated that online vocational training will keep an annual growth rate of more than 20% in the years to come.