China starts campaign for cultivating skilled workers

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By Li Xinping, People’s Daily

China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MOHRSS) has lately issued guidelines to initiate a campaign for training skilled workers.

According to the guidelines, the country plans to increase the number of skilled labor by over 40 million by the end of 2025, and will ensure its proportion in the country’s total employed population rises to 30 percent by then.

Besides, the country intends to bring the proportion of highly skilled personnel in skilled workers to 35 percent in its eastern provinces, and lift that in the central and western regions by two to three percentage points by 2025.

Highly skilled workers can turn research findings and designs into actual products, contribute to scientific and technological innovation and breakthroughs and undertake many other important tasks, noted Chen Lixiang, deputy head of the Chinese Society for Technical and Vocational Education.

China’s technological advances in equipment manufacturing in recent years couldn’t have been achieved without the wisdom of high-caliber innovation teams made up of personnel including skilled workers, Chen said.

As of the end of last year, the number of skilled workers in China exceeded 200 million, among whom nearly 30 percent, or about 58 million, were highly skilled. However, there remains a prominent scarcity of skilled labor in the country, with the number of vacancies for highly skilled workers being over twice that of job seekers.

Research conducted by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and Ministry of Education shows ten major fields of manufacturing will suffer from a shortage of nearly 30 million skilled workers by 2025, Chen warned.

To ensure that the goals and tasks set out in the guidelines will be achieved, the document specified 20 measures related to endeavors including perfecting relevant systems and policies, advancing vocational education, involving companies in skills training, and enhancing international cooperation in the aspect, which cover the cultivation, employment and evaluation of and incentives for skilled workers.

In order to push ahead with high-quality vocational training, 155 prefecture-level cities in 31 provincial-level regions and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps in China have offered electronic coupons for training courses this year, allowing impoverished laborers, the unemployed, college graduates and staff members in companies to improve their professional skills with the electronic coupons received through their social security accounts.

Data suggest that nearly 1.76 million electronic coupons had been issued and 84,300 of them had been used by mid-April.

The guidelines stressed continuously implementing a new type of apprenticeship system with Chinese characteristics for companies. On the basis of the traditional one, the new type of apprenticeship system highlights vocational training jointly carried out by training institutions and companies, policy support and government subsidies, Chen pointed out.

Under the new apprenticeship system, companies can cut costs of talent cultivation, apprentices can be better prepared for jobs, and vocational schools and institutions can get involved in the practices of companies, according to Chen.

In 2020, Kunshan, east China’s Jiangsu province, opened its first session of training courses under the new apprenticeship system. “The training courses were totally free,” said Zhou Qiang, an apprentice attending the courses, adding that those certificated as senior technicians after the training can receive a subsidy of 8,000 yuan ($1,238) from the government.

“We have also learned from and adopted advanced countries’ successful experience and practices in training, employing, and evaluating skilled workers, and promoted mutual recognition of vocational qualification certificates among countries,” said a MOHRSS official, adding that the ministry will continuously advance relevant work to ensure the success of the 46th World Skills Competition to be held in Shanghai in 2022.

According to the guidelines, companies can independently determine the scope for evaluating occupations (types of work), set grades for positions requiring professional skills, develop and formulate evaluation standards and norms, and adopt methods for carrying out evaluation of skilled talents.

By the end of May, more than 5,200 enterprises and over 1,800 social organizations in China had been authorized to identify occupational skill levels, and about 2.3 million skilled workers had been rated qualified and received their certificates.

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