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Helping farmers find work
(China Daily by Qiu Quanlin)
Updated: 2004-02-25 00:28

Wu Weiming, 33, a farmer from the Guangzhou suburb of Zengcheng, together with his wife and daughter, went to a job expo at the weekend, hoping to gain employment in the city.

He used to be a truck driver in the city, taking home about 1,300 yuan (US$157) a month to support his family.

"Our living standard improved for a while but things fell apart a little bit when I was retrenched and when my wife was also without a job," Wu said.

Two years ago, Wu was forced to return to the farm as his boss in the city went bankrupt.

Unemployed, Wu and his wife have since toiled every day on their small plot.

"I am hoping to get a job back in the city and become a city resident," Wu said.

At the Guangzhou municipal government job fair, held on Sunday especially for unemployed farmers, Wu picked up a job.

Altogether, 131 companies were present at the expo, which was the first of its kind in the city. The companies offered some 6,360 employment opportunities.

Guangzhou, which is ranked as one of the most prosperous cities in the country, has beefed up its efforts to try and assist farmers, who are increasingly being left behind as China's income-gap widens.

Throngs of local farmers flocked to the expo. About 2,300 of them found work and another 2,500 were intending to sign with the companies.

Similar events will be held in other city districts at the end of the month.

On February 18, the first job expo for farmers was held in Conghua, also in Guangzhou.

More than 10,000 local farmers attended and 40 per cent found work.

Some 70 companies brought 1,500 job opportunities to the expo, which aroused farmers' hopes of finding work in the suburbs.

Most of the farmers applied for jobs ranging from the manufacturing and construction industries to other public service sectors.

In addition, the requirements for the jobs was reduced.

Local statistics show that the per capita income for farmers in Guangzhou has only increased by 1,500 yuan (US$181) over the last four years. For city residents, it has grown by 4,800 yuan (US$580).

To date, about 500,000 farmers are available to work in Guangzhou.

"All of them will eventually be able to find jobs in the city as the number of job vacancies increase by 200,000 each year," said Su Zequn, vice-mayor of the city.

"Guangzhou is expected to employ those farmers in the city in next three to five years."

To help farmers find employment, the local government will invest 6 million yuan (US$725,500) in training.

At the same time, farmers with annual income of less than 1,500 yuan (US$181) will be provided with chances to go to technical schools for free, added Zhang Jiming, director of the Guangzhou Labour and Social Security Bureau.

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