The Vocational Training Council has announced the establishment of two new training centres to help cope with soaring demand for skills training amid the financial meltdown. Opening the training centres in rented premises in Tung Chung and Kwun Tong by year's end is part of the council's Integrated Vocational Development Centre expansion plans. The centre already runs two training centres, which opened in October in Fanling and Mei Foo. The council's assistant executive director, Gary Au Kam-hung, said it has been flooded with applications since the centres opened. 'We got 2,500 applications over the past six months. Fifteen hundred of the applications were received after the Lunar New Year.' Offering a wide range of training programmes, such as language and IT, waiting on tables and hairdressing, the centre is aimed at equipping the unemployed with the necessary skills to re-enter the labour market and strengthening the competitiveness of working people. The courses, which last one to two months, are aimed at unemployed people aged 15 or above and are free. The centres are funded by the Employees Retraining Board. The council is one of about 70 local training organisations commissioned by the board to assist the unemployed and provide in-service training for working people. Mr Au said the council was required by the board to help trainees find jobs upon completing the courses. 'They require us to find jobs for at least 70 per cent of the trainees. The job-seeking drive is helped by the robust partnerships the council enjoys with industry. Usually, we get employment for them within three months.' He said they differed from traditional retraining course providers because they included professional interest classes in the curriculum. 'Examples are classes on dessert-making and professional photography,' Mr Au said. 'We hope that such courses, with more interesting elements, can provide more choices for our students.'