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Saturday, November 25, 2000, updated at 16:27(GMT+8)

Demand for Home Help on the Rise

China is pinning high hopes on its fledgling household management, or domestic help, sector to relieve growing employment pressure by increasing job prospects.

Lin Yongsan, vice-minister of labour and social security, told a seminar that the sector is expected to create at least 15 million jobs in the coming years.

The seminar, organized by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, was held on Tuesday and Wednesday in Beijing to solicit suggestions from experts and officials in a bid to speed up the development of the sector.

The household management service sector is expected to produce major growth in the country's urban employment, according to the vice-minister.

Lin said there is now the need for a domestic help service in the country's medium-sized and large cities due to the rapidly increasing income levels of urban families who are now demanding more outside help in running their household affairs.

The forecast serves as good news for China's unsatisfactory employment situation.

Statistics indicate that the demand for urban jobs in China stands at 16 million with 6.5 million laid-off workers, 5.7 million jobless and an annual average of 4 million new labourers.

Even based on an annual growth of 8 per cent of the country's national economy, only 7 million jobs can be created nationwide each year.

China's gross domestic product (GDP) recorded a solid 8.2 per cent growth year on year in the first three quarters of this year, the National Bureau of Statistics announced in October.

Economists predict the country's GDP will rise about 8 per cent year on year in 2000, up from 7.1 per cent last year. Thereby reversing the trend of slowing growth since 1992.

Despite redoubled efforts to train more domestic helpers, most Chinese cities are still failing to meet the demand from well-to-do city dwellers for such workers.

A recent survey suggested that Shenyang, the capital city of Northeast China's Liaoning Province, has a demand for 96,000 domestic helpers from more than 40,000 vacancies. In Wuhan, the capital city of Central China's Hubei Province, 90,000 jobs are available and demand is for 100,000 domestic employees while the number of vacancies is up to 240,000 in Nanjing, the capital city of East China's Jiangsu Province, while demand has reached 360,000.

The fact that household management has yet to be professionized, standardized and socialized is contributing a lot to the lack of workers, industry analysts said.

Firstly, lack of training has lead to the poor quality of some household management workers or domestic servants who consequently fail to meet the demands of their employers.

Secondly, the irregular practice and input of intermediaries in the job market has caused poor communication between domestic helpers and their employers, who usually hire employees without signing a contract to make their labour relationship legal.

Thirdly, the absence of related national regulations to ensure social security or unemployment insurance for domestic helpers has stopped the job becoming an official profession recognized by the State.

Furthermore, the prejudice and outdated, traditional perceptions of servants also explains why so few people, including laid-off workers from State-owned enterprises, are unwilling to take the job.

The Labour and Social Security Ministry has vowed to take concrete measures to boost the development of the household management sector.

These measures will include setting national standards for the job, strengthening job training and standardizing the operation of intermediary institutions in the job market.

The ministry will also push ahead with trials recruiting domestic helpers in some cities next year.


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China is pinning high hopes on its fledgling household management, or domestic help, sector to relieve growing employment pressure by increasing job prospects.

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