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College graduates answer 'Go West' call
( 2003-06-17 10:12) (China Daily)

The campaign to send 6,000 college graduates to China's impoverished far west to work as volunteers has been swamped by applicants since it was launched last Tuesday.

Of the 2,002 young people who have applied to "Go West" are a number who have given up the chance of working in big companies in China's affluent coastal cities.

Mo Feng, 22, a senior with Peking University Health Science Centre from Guangdong Province, had received a job offer from the Shenzhen Disease Control and Prevention Centre.

To everyone's surprise, he turned it down and applied instead to be a part of the "Go West" volunteer scheme.

Mo said his working life will be more significant if he can help the western regions build up disease prevention centres.

"There are plenty of professionals in Shenzhen, too many college graduates and people with master's degrees," he said. "But going to the west gives me a chance to do more practical work and be most useful."

By last week, western provinces and regions had 16,543 unfilled vacancies needing skilled and well-educated volunteers, according to sources with the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League, one of the campaign's sponsors.

The top three skills areas with places are education, accounting for 43.7 per cent of the total, public health, at 20.2 per cent, and farming technology at 19.3 per cent.

Official statistics also show that the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Guizhou Province and Chongqing Municipality are the three main regions in need of professionals.

As demand has largely exceeded the number of current volunteer applicants, sponsors said more needs to be done to ensure each volunteer finds the most suitable position.

"We have to allocate each volunteer to a fitting position according to their skills and majors in college," said Chen Zhu, a member of the campaign team.

The experience gained by volunteers will prove invaluable, not only for those they help, but for their own future careers.

Quite a few private companies have also expressed interest in the volunteers, and said they would hope to employ them after they complete their stint out west.

"A volunteer willing to serve the west must be a responsible person, and we enterprises need such people," said Zhang Simin, chairman of the Shenzhen-based Neptunus Group.

Many college graduates nowadays know little about the spirit of teamwork or have less capacity to bear hardship, says Zhang. In order to address these fundamental character shortcomings he has sought to arrange stints of military training and one month's work experience at grass roots level for all new employees.

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