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Students, workers urged to become boss
By Shen Lan (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-03-30 00:12

Students and farmers-turned workers are to be encouraged to start their own businesses to help solve the country's unemployment problem.

Job seekers attend a job fair in Beijing, February 25, 2005. More than 100,000 job seekers packed the two-day job fair which provided 20,000 vacancies. It is said this will be the largest job fair this year in Beijing. [Xinhua]

China's labour watchdog is to expand a business training programme to another 300,000 people throughout the country this year, mostly college students and migrant workers.

"We expect half of the trainees to successfully start their business afterwards," said Vice-Minister of Labour and Social Security Zhang Xiaojian.

But more importantly, the ministry hopes these new "bosses" can help ease the country's grim unemployment figures by creating more job vacancies.

"Reasoning from the equation that a small business can bring four job vacancies, about a million jobless people may find places through the programme," Zhang said.

This year, more than 30 colleges and universities will be included in the programme, plus senior technical school students, according to Yao Chunsheng, the project manager at the ministry.

And some poor rural areas in China's southern and western regions will also be the key targets for this year.

The drive is part of an employment promotion project dubbed SYB (Start Your Business) initiated in 1997 jointly by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the Japanese Government.

By offering both effective training and small loans, the project began among farmers in 23 rural counties eight years ago and has expanded to laid-off workers in six pilot cities since 2001.

By the end of last year, more than 14,000 laid-off and unemployed workers from six cities in Hebei, Jilin, Liaoning provinces and Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region had participated.

Nearly 5,000 of them had successfully started up their own business. According to the ILO's standard for a "successful business" that means starting it up within half a year and running it for over eight months.

As high as 94 per cent of the small loans had been refunded on average in the pilot cities.

Now 80 domestic cities have introduced SYB programmes, with 170,000 participants.

Since last year, another SIYB (Start and Improve Your Business) programme has joined in with the sponsorship the United Kingdom to diversify China's employment promotion policies.

But the country's employment tension is unlikely to be relaxed if the unemployed demand more from their careers, lamented Yao.

"Most Chinese belittle technical work but chase 'promising' careers in areas such as law and banking," he said.

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