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Shanghai Needs More Job Training
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Deputies to the ongoing Shanghai Municipal People's Congress have called for more vocational training to reduce the city's growing employment pressure.


According to the work report put together by Mayor Han Zheng's government, Shanghai created 663,000 new jobs in the past year, in part by encouraging self-employment. The unemployment rate was 4.4 percent.


"We must generate more job opportunities through a series of policies," Han said.


He set a target unemployment rate of under 4.5 percent for this year, which could be a challenge.


He said employment pressure in the city has not been effectively relieved.


There are no exact figures available for how many people are out of work in the city. But according to National Business Daily, the 558,300 jobs offered in the third quarter of last year in Shanghai attracted 1,221,800 applicants, 154,000 more than in the previous year.


There were 100,000 fewer jobs offered last year than in 2005. And some 100,000 more students will be entering the job market this year.


It is said that more than 1 million university graduates are unemployed in the country at the moment.


And a survey by deputy Zhang Wenrong, who interviewed students at 20 universities in Shanghai, found that a lack of relevant skills was the biggest hurdle many students face in seeking employment.


"While 73 percent of the students I interviewed said vocational skills are important, only 13 percent said they were satisfied with the vocational training their schools were providing," Zhang said.


"Graduates who lack vocational training will not only have a difficult time finding a job, but also hinder the country's development."


Zhang has suggested that universities offer more vocational training as well as opportunities for students to practise their skills.


In addition to improving applicants' skills, deputies also suggested that the city government draw up more preferential policies to support self-employment.


Deputy Hong Kemin said her son had employed six new graduates since starting his own business.


Statistics show that self-employment aid, in the form of consultations and loans, has helped more than 200,000 people find jobs in Shanghai.


"But most entrepreneurs still have a hard time developing their businesses," deputy Wang Shuyang said. "The government is offering lots of preferential policies to entrepreneurs who come back from abroad, but not so many to local ones."


Deputy Liang Hong said entrepreneurs face a lot of risks since their businesses are typically small.


Wang said the biggest challenges facing new entrepreneurs are securing financing, finding locations and small-scale capabilities.


"The government should try to offer them preferential loans, like small amounts at low rates, and at the same time provide them with more advice," Wang said.


(China Daily February 1, 2007)

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