A McKinsey report Addressing China’s Looming Talent Shortage states:
China’s pool of university graduates is enormous . . . Consider engineers. China has 1.6 million young professionals . . . But the main drawback of Chinese applicants for engineering jobs, our interviewees said, is the educational system’s bias toward theory. Chinese students get little practical experience in projects or teamwork compared with engineering graduates in Europe or North America, who work in teams to achieve practical solutions.
I believe this is another example of a lack of knowledge transfer based on the difference between content knowledge and pragmatic knowledge. The memorization of content knowledge becomes pragmatically useful for completing educational assessments, but it lacks the contextual component that makes knowledge useful in other activities outside of education. Contextually relevant pragmatic knowledge is necessary for being successful in everyday problem solving activities. The practical solutions that the McKinsey report considers important in western engineering education do not support the accumulation of knowledge, but they do expand the capabilities of students to work in similar activity systems. The rap against Chinese students is that they excel at testing (an educational activity system), but not at the capabilities needed for workbased world activity systems .