PLA zeroes in on college hiring

Updated: 2011-12-22 09:13

By Zhao Shengnan and Li Xiaokun (China Daily)

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Most earlier college recruits left the army for jobs after the compulsory two years instead of pursuing further military development, Liu said.

One reason was the wide disparity in educational backgrounds and ways of doing things. But now, Liu said, the better-educated army is more tolerant of diversity in education and personality, so more college recruits are likely to stay in the army and make it a career.

PLA has had its own military academies, but it started recruiting graduates and students from ordinary colleges in 2001. By the end of 2009, college graduates accounted for 130,000 of the PLA's soldiers, Xinhua News Agency reported.

A 19-year-old firefighter who asked to be called only by his surname, Pan, enlisted after graduating from high school last year and serves at a fire station in Beijing. (PLA army provides the staff.) He said that some imported firefighting vehicles are so expensive and complicated to operate that only the experienced veterans and well-educated officers have the access to them.

Realizing the limits of his capability, he is considering applying to a military academy to receive further education and develop his firefighting expertise. "I believe it's the best choice for me" after completing the two-year obligation.

Additional benefits

College recruits or not, benefits for Chinese soldiers are improving. Soldiers are paid by the provinces they come from, and the amount is based on the province's economic strength and local cost of living.

This year, one-time pay - in essence, a signing bonus - for each recruit from Shanghai rose from 22,000 yuan ($3,476) to 26,000 yuan ($4,082). Recruits from less-developed Gansu province in Northwest China were paid 12,000 yuan ($1,884) instead of the previous 5,000 yuan ($790).

US-based Associated Press reported that military pay and benefits have improved as China's growing economy offers numerous alternatives. Military service also can lead to careers in security, local government and other areas.

Officers who serve at least 12 years in the PLA are guaranteed a government job after retiring. As of Nov 1, however, local governments stopped providing jobs after completion of military service. However, they will offer job training and compensation to help veterans start a business. This year, the amount was 50,000 yuan in Shanghai and 63,000 in Northeast China's Liaoning province.