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Skilled Jobs Left Unfilled

Shanghai will need about 500,000 highly skilled technicians within the next five years, city officials told the first Shanghai International Forum on Vocational Training over the weekend.

The forum attracted more than 20 scholars and business people from all over the world to discuss the current situation and future development of this new breed of worker.

Currently, there are more than 150,000 vacant technical positions in the city, for people trained as computerized machine operators and jewelry designers among other skills.

But the city's Labor and Social Security Bureau says there are currently only 3,800 qualified senior technicians in the city, and the gulf between supply and demand is pushing salaries for workers significantly higher.

Several local media outlets have reported that local companies are offering annual salaries of up to 300,000 yuan (US$36.144) for skilled technicians -- the result of a professional shortage, said Chen Yu of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.

Besides high-level technicians in traditional manufacturing industries, ordinary workers in high-tech industries -- such as IT programmers and multi-media controllers -- also belong to the work sector that the city is badly in need of, officials said.

"The shortage is rightly a reflection of an unbalanced employment structure and insufficient basic vocational training in the country," said Fan Gang, director of the National Economic Research Institute.

As Shanghai develops its high-tech industries and becomes a global digital manufacturing center, trained workers will become the biggest labor class in the city, forum delegates said.

By that time, salaries for skilled professionals will also return from the currently abnormally high levels to 4,000 to 8,000 yuan per month, officials said.

The Shanghai Vocational Training Center has launched 14 training courses for professionals. Local training schools can bid to offer the courses to train more professionals here, they added.

(Shanghai Daily December 8, 2003)

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