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Job Market Faces Challenges
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The employment market will remain gloomy for "a considerably long term", with as many as 12 million workers struggling to find a job every year, according to a report released by the labor authority yesterday.

It is estimated that 65 percent of the population will be of working age in the coming 20 years as the children of the baby boom generation of the 1960s and 1970s enter the job market, said the report by the Ministry of Labor and Social Securities (MLSS).

Half of the 24 million people who enter the job market every year will not immediately be able to find work, despite the rapid growth of the country's gross domestic product, which is expected to create about 10 million new jobs every year until 2010, said the report.

The employment outlook is further clouded by the 120 million rural workers expected to remain idle in the countryside, said the report.

Despite the apparent over-supply in the labor pool, the MLSS also stressed in its report that labor shortages have hit factories in some prosperous regions.

The annual 5 percent increase in the number of migrant workers, a major factor in the fast pace of urbanization in recent years, has failed to keep pace with the annual growth in demand for workers, which has expanded by about 10 to 15 percent a year since 2003, said the report.

As a result, about 45 percent of the enterprises in the Pearl River Delta and 34 percent in the Yangtze River Delta polled by MLSS said they did not have enough workers last spring.

Meanwhile, the migrants' growing awareness of their legal and economic rights has also contributed to the shortage.

About half of the migrants surveyed by the MLSS said they would be willing to quit their jobs because of "low pay".

The lack of professional training is another factor in the shortage, said the report.

The report cited a survey by the MLSS earlier this year which found that 37 percent of all new jobs required a medium level of skills, but only 13 percent of migrant workers had received formal job training.

The ministry called for better working environments for workers as well as improved training programs.

While painting a dismal picture of the employment market, the report also sought to dispel fears raised by reports that China's labor supply would dry up by 2010.

A report released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences last month forecast that the family planning policy had helped slow the growth of the population.

This indicates that China would be "moving from an era of labor surpluses into an era of labor shortages."

(China Daily June 15, 2007)

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