Government-funded employment agencies in the southern city will stop charging job seekers from Saturday in the hope of attracting more migrant workers
"Migrant workers need not spend a penny getting a job at government-funded employment agencies. Also, they can enjoy a package of free services including CV archiving, job recommendation, employment guidance and occupation quality evaluation," said Li Zhuo, an official with Shenzhen Labor and Social Security Bureau.
The booming city, bordering Hong Kong, is trying to fill a labor shortage of at least 100,000 to fuel its fast-growing economy, according to official figures released early this year.
Currently there are five government-funded agencies in the city's four districts. They provide at least two job fairs for migrant workers every week.
However, the cost can be prohibitive for workers, meaning they are more likely to go to unlicensed agencies where they may be cheated.
Currently charges include 10 yuan (US$1.25) for admission, 2 yuan (US$0.25) for looking at a recruitment notice, 30 yuan (US$3.75) for employment guidance and up to 200 yuan (US$25) on receiving an offer.
"We will not set any limitations on migrant job seekers. They should enjoy the same treatment in terms of employment opportunity and payment as local residents," Li said.
Migrant worker Li Jianjun was pleased with the new measure.
"It's definitely good. I'll save at least 100 yuan (US$12.5) when I get a new job. The government should have done it earlier," said the 22-year-old from central China's Hunan Province, who has been a security guard for two years.
He said government-funded employment agencies are usually big organizations and more reliable, but five is obviously not enough.
"Some of my friends were cheated by illegal job agencies after they failed to find a job in registered organizations. Some private agencies charge a big amount, like 500 to 1,000 yuan (US$62.5 to 125), when a deal is made," he said.
By providing free services, government funded employment agencies could get a total of 10 million yuan (US$1.25 million) in subsidies from the central, municipal and district treasuries, Li of the labour bureau said.
However, private employment agencies could take a hit.
"They can waive their charges as well. But if they charge, they have to provide more reliable and tailor-made services to job seekers," Li told reporters.
She forecast that some private employment agencies would focus on a particular industry, for example, electronics, furniture or jewelry.
(China Daily June 30, 2006)