The mainland's poorly educated rural workforce could face tough challenges if Beijing joins the World Trade Organisation, officials have warned. Agricultural Minister Chen Yaobang said the rural workforce was not sufficiently qualified to tackle more advanced jobs in manufacturing, China Business Weekly reported yesterday. It quoted officials from the ministry as saying only 10 per cent of workers from township enterprises - the pillar of the mainland's rural industry - were college educated. However, the country has a pool of surplus labourers in rural areas totalling about 200 million. In addition to a shortage of qualified workers, the report said other problems faced by industries in rural areas included difficulties in obtaining bank loans, unfair levies imposed by local governments and sluggish markets. However, Tang Zhengping, director-general of the Department of International Co-operation of the Agriculture Ministry, was optimistic. He said the opening of the mainland's rural markets could draw more foreign investors and, in turn, the Government would encourage more joint ventures.