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Call to boost training of skilled workers, technicians

2010-11-05 15:46

BEIJING - Vocational education in China's central and western areas should be boosted to improve the skill of workers as more manufacturers start to relocate there.

The call came from experts in human resources and education, following a Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security blueprint that wants to nurture 34 million skilled workers by 2015.

Zhang Chewei, deputy director of the Institute of Population and Labor Economics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, said to improve the quality of made-in-China products, the country must first improve the skills of its workers.

"Since central and western China supply most of the country's workers and will host manufacturing companies relocating from coastal areas, more support should be given to the more than 1,500 polytechnic and vocational institutes in the regions," he said.

Chu Zhaohui, researcher of China National Institute for Education Research, said: "As the industrial relocation accelerates, inland cities will host a bulk of manufacturing industry and they will need skilled workers."

More than 40 percent of Chinese enterprises are facing a staff shortage, with skilled workers and technicians the most needed employees over the past five years, said reports of Manpower, an international employment agency in the United States. The results came from survey of about 1,300 enterprises in China.

China's two manufacturing powerhouses - the Yangtze and Pearl river deltas - have seen severe worker shortages, partly because many young people are not keen to move to coastal areas for a job.

This has prompted many businesses, including giants such as Intel, Foxconn and Dell, to move their manufacturing units to inland areas, where labor and land costs are much lower.

"Echoing the trend, to boost vocational education will build an affluent worker pool for future economic development of these regions," Zhang said.

This will also help solve a long-standing structural problem of the country's job market, experts said.

Enterprises have been complaining they cannot recruit enough people while many migrant workers, who are generally not formally trained, said they cannot find ideal jobs.

"The problem is not that China lacks workers. The core of the issue is that we are short of skilled workers," Chu said.

Cui Yonghong, the head of computer science department at Shaanxi Vocational and Technical College in Northwest China, said its graduates are welcome at job fairs because their training fits the requirement of many companies.

Data from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security showed that the average employment rate of graduates from polytechnic and occupational schools is about 95 percent over the past three years, beating 86.5 percent for college and university graduates.

"But polytechnic education needs more investment and support from the government. We need to hire more professionals to teach and build a better training center in future for students," Cui said.

Su Zhou contributed to this story.

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