China's employment authorities have opened up the country's vocational training to foreign investment so as to meet a growing demand for skilled workers.
A regulation, issued by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, effective from October 1, allows foreign education institutions to cooperate with Chinese counterparts.
"The Chinese institutions and programs must not profit from the training activities," said Wang Yadong, deputy director of the ministry's Employment Training Department.
There are 330,000 job vacancies for skilled workers, such as millers and welders, each year in Beijing, but there was a dearth of qualified people, and the situation is the same all over the country, Wang said.
Chinese institutions with foreign cooperation must be able to train at least 200 people at one time, and the fixed assets and registered capital of the institutions must exceed 500,000 yuan (US$62,500), according to the regulation.
While university graduates have been scrambling for jobs in recent years, the employment rate of secondary vocational school graduates remains high, statistics from the Ministry of Education show.
From 2001 to 2005, the employment rate was 95 percent on average, and the average salary of graduates of secondary vocational schools was higher than college graduates this year in the cities of Harbin, Hangzhou and Chengdu.
The central government will invest 10 billion yuan in the infrastructure of vocational education over the next five years and local governments will spend more than 20 billion yuan in the initiative.
(Xinhua News Agency August 18, 2006)