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Beijingers Busy "Upskilling" in Holidays

Li Yanfen, an employee with a foreign-funded business in Beijing, got up earlier than usual on Friday, the third day of the 7-day May holidays. She was going to the other side of the city to attend the opening ceremony of a "public speaking class" offered by Beijing Dazhao School.

She will spend the remaining four days of the holidays with 20-odd classmates in the speech class. "It's not too much time, but it's better than going to the class during work days," said Li. She said that most of her colleagues planned to attend training classes of various sorts during the May holidays.

While lots of people in Beijing still use the holidays to go sightseeing, an increasing number of Beijingers are spending the time to "upskill" themselves. Fierce competition in the job market and higher skill requirements after China's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) are believed to be the major driving forces.

Popular subjects include English, computers, CISA, CCIM, public speaking and classes offering new knowledge and skills.

"My colleagues and I know that seven days are too short for a subject, but we believe that even a brief period of learning is useful," said Li Yanfen.

Besides attending classes, reading is another means of upskilling for many local people. A survey shows that 45 percent of Beijing's residents have book-buying plans during the May holidays, 88 percent have scheduled reading time at home and seven percent intend doing some reading at libraries.

The Beijing Spring Book Fair, which opened four days ago, has been crowded with book buyers these days.

Cao Ruifang, head of Dazhao School, said that besides tourism and recreation, cultural activities and education were becoming an important part of the "holiday economy."

(Xinhua News Agency May 3, 2002)

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