PLA unveils recruitment drive for civilian jobs

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 July, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 July, 2005, 12:00am

Filling non-military positions will allow army to focus on efforts to go hi-tech

The PLA has been given the go-ahead to hire a large number of civilians to fill vacant non-military positions.

The move, to start next month, will enable the People's Liberation Army to focus on efforts to promote itself as a hi-tech army.

Under the new regulations approved by Central Military Commission chief President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, civilian recruits will be assigned to work in areas such as schools, institutes, hospitals, art troupes and libraries operated under the PLA umbrella.

Applicants will need to fulfil certain employment criteria, such as meeting the 'political conditions' for army service, holding a university degree and fulfilling health requirements.

The age limits for applicants for junior, intermediate and senior posts are 35, 40 and 45, respectively.

The employees will be required to wear uniforms and take part in military exercises, drills, emergencies and even wars when ordered to do so.

The new regulations were announced by Xinhua yesterday. They follow calls by the Central Military Commission last year for steps to enhance the army's capabilities.

'There is cutthroat competition in human resources in international and domestic societies. The problem [of shortage of talent] in the PLA system has become prominent,' said an officer from the PLA's General Political Department. A commentary run yesterday by PLA Daily hailed the move as a significant step that changed the military's staff structure and recruitment system.

It said the PLA was at a transitional stage and had to face up to the need for the introduction of more science and technology into the army.

Liang Musheng , a public administration scholar at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan , said the introduction of civilians would not only refresh the military, but also help personnel mix with people from other sections of society.

'The PLA had been heading towards becoming a purely military body,' he said.

Professor Liang said many existing non-military PLA members, especially highly talented individuals, were reluctant to stay in the military.

'They were sent here by their PLA units for training and complained that their remuneration and career development inside the [PLA] system was much worse than their military PLA counterparts and outside professionals,' he said. 'They are looking for various ways to escape the system.'

The 2.5-million-strong PLA is in the process of shedding 200,000 military personnel, focusing on rationalising its bloated logistics capacity and cutting unnecessary layers in the chain of command by the end of this year.