Authorities to give migrant workers skills boost

08:51, May 11, 2010      

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Chen Quanning, a 36-year-old migrant worker from Henan province, was wandering in a crowded employment market in Beijing, disappointed not to find a job paying more than 2,000 yuan ($293) per month.

But less than 10 meters away from him stood Zhang Songming, holding a board reading "4,000 yuan, for machine operator", but no one appeared to be interested in her offer.

Confusing scenes such as this are expected to become less common in the future after the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security vowed to train 120 million unskilled migrant workers within five years by taking a variety of measures including offering subsidies to employers.

"There is a pretty clear mismatch in the nation's labor market," said Zhang Juwei, a professor and director of the labor and social security research center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).

"Many businesses can't find workers but, at the same time, many people can't find jobs either."

"Everybody wants to get a job with higher skills and earn more money, but as you see, employers would rather pay more money to hire mature workers than use the money to train people like me," said Chen.

"If I was given a chance to learn skills like operating machinery on the job, I would take it even if they paid me less (than the normal market level)," said Chen, who moved to Beijing in 1996 but has had few skilled jobs.

According to a survey by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, demand for workers will rise by 15 percent this year compared with last year. In the Pearl River Delta, factories may need at least 2 million more workers to meet demand this year.

Yet employment remains a big headache in China. Around 150 million migrant workers stay in cities to seek employment, said Premier Wen Jiabao in an earlier online chat. Some researchers even said the number could hit 200 million.

China's official registered unemployment rate was 4.3 percent in 2009, but researchers said the overall figure - which includes the rural unemployed laborers - could be more than double that.

Zhang said giving migrant workers more practical training would be an effective solution to the problem of unemployment and help reduce employers' labor costs.

In January, the State Council ordered relevant departments to draw up renewed training plans and build a system of subsidies to improve migrant workers' skills. Meanwhile, it said that training funds would be managed at provincial level.

"We will explore the possibility of direct subsidy to employers and incentives for training institutions to fill in the supply and demand gap," said Yang Zhiming, vice-minister of human resources and social security.

He said the government would make sure every migrant worker experiences training more than once by 2015.

In recent years, direct support to migrant workers such as allocating training coupons has become an important way for the government to promote training programs in rural areas.

Source: China Daily


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