Competitors in additive manufacturing at the first Vocational Skills Competition of the People's Republic of China. [Photo by Zou Hong/chinadaily.com.cn] To optimize the employment market, new policies have been reinforced to nurture high-quality and skilled workers, including improving their incomes and uplifting their social status. Early in November, proposals for the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25)－State-level proposals for the nation's economic and social development－highlighted the importance of nurturing skilled talent. Tang Tao, vice-minister of human resources and social security, said at a news conference organized by the State Council Information Office on Friday that in the next five years vocational education will continue to be a vital way to produce high-quality and skilled workers, which will also help ease the current employment pressure. "There is structural imbalance in the employment market, where some groups of workers fail to find a job while some vacancies are yet to be filled," he said. "So we have to strengthen vocational education to crack the problem." According to the latest figures from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, there are more than 200 million skilled workers on the mainland, among whom 50 million are highly skilled. However, the job market is still in a predicament as the imbalance in the demand and supply for skills between employers and workers continues to ratchet up. Skilled workers account for only about 26 percent of the total work force, while those with higher skills represent about 28 percent. "We already released a three-year plan in skills improvement in May 2019, which will be further stressed during the 14th Five-Year Plan period," he said. "So far, the nation has nearly 2,400 vocational schools with about 3.6 million students on campuses. What's important is that there are about 1 million vocational school graduates joining the group of skilled workers every year, so we have to make sure the educational work is done well." He said that in addition to enhancing vocational education, it's also of great importance to improve the income for skilled workers to give them stronger incentives. He added that the government is making efforts to ensure about 200 million skilled workers have moderate incomes.