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China Daily Website

Workforce needs more training, says think tank

Updated: 2013-10-11 01:21
By He Dan ( China Daily)

China will have difficulty upgrading its economy because the quality of its labor force falls short when compared to many developed countries, a top think tank warned on Thursday.

Only about 7 percent of China's working-age population went to college in 2012, according to the Annual Report on the Development of China's Human Resources released by the Social Sciences Academic Press in Beijing. That pales in comparison to the United States, where 60 percent of its work force received higher education; Japan, where 40 percent went to college; and the United Kingdom, where 32 percent are graduates.

The report said less than 13 percent of employees in China have a university degree and that the nation is facing a shortage of 22 million to 33 million skilled workers.

"China indulged in being the world factory over the past 30 years. Although this helped increase job opportunities, most of the employees did low-skilled jobs in harsh working environments,"said Yang Yiyong, director of the Social Development Research Institute under the National Development and Reform Commission.

China has brought millions of its people out of poverty, but it urgently needs to transform its economic model from being driven by manufacturing to one that is service-oriented, he stressed. This upgrade in economic model cannot be achieved, he said, without improving the quality of the nation's employees.

Apart from reforming the education system to ensure university graduates take high-demand jobs in the market, it is critical for China to create training programs to improve the quality of workers, said He Wenfang, an official from the department of professional capacity building at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security. "Employees' income and benefits are closely linked to their level of education and professional skills, but the society has not attached enough importance to job training,"she said. "The government should make more efforts to facilitate job training."

Li Yonghui, president of Service People Chain Stores Ltd in Changsha, Hunan province, said his company offers half-day training programs every Saturday for employees across its 2,800 stores.

"Job training should be available for all employees throughout their careers, to update their knowledge and skills in order to be more competitive. We are providing the training on our own, but we hope the government can provide financial support and trainers,"he said.

The report released on Thursday also noted that every year more than 24 million people in urban areas enter the job market to compete for 12 million available jobs.

The report said another growing trend is that employees frequently change their jobs. Surveys showed that more than 40 percent of college graduates in 2011 changed their jobs within half a year after graduating and half of China's 250 million migrant workers spent less than two years at one job.

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