Training to benefit migrant workers
( 2003-10-03 09:15) (China Daily)
Millions of Chinese migrant workers and their children will benefit from an ambitious training programme and education policy under the leadership of the central government.
The central government announced yesterday that the programme and policy will be soon implemented nationwide.
"I have slept here for three days, but no progress has been made in finding a job,'' said Zhang Xiaozhu from Central China's Henan Province, who was wearing a dirty jacket and sitting in an underpass near Beijing's West Railway Station.
The emergence of the huge migrant worker army since the 1980s has literally broken China's traditional worker-farmer social divide and turned into a new force which toils both in urban and rural settings.
Because of a lack of skills, the "floating population'' like Zhang face hard competition in the job market. The lucky ones, who find jobs in cities, usually do the hardest, dirtiest and lowest-paid work.
"The economic imbalance between rural and urban areas provided different education opportunities to rural and urban residents, which resulted in a huge gap of knowledge and skills between urban and migrant workers,'' said Lu Xueyi, a professor of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
According to statistics, the average education term of rural residents is 7.33 years compared with 10.2 for urban residents. Among migrant workers who entered cities in 2001, only 18.6 per cent had received professional training.
Lu said the huge imbalance has slowed down economic growth and will seriously block China's development.
The central government is launching the ambitious plan to offer training to its big contingent of migrant workers to increase their employment prospects.
According to a circular issued by the State Council, China's cabinet, during the next seven years, about 70 million migrant workers will receive basic training and many will get additional professional training.
The elementary training is expected to inform potential migrant workers of the basics, including safeguarding their rights and interests, and offering them knowledge about laws, regulations and facts for living in cities, in addition to job hunting skills.
The professional training will focus on sectors like housekeeping services, the restaurant business, hotel services, healthcare, construction and manufacturing.
In order to ensure the success of the plan, funds will be allotted by both the central government and local governments at all levels. Work units are obliged to offer training to the migrant workers they employ and 1.5 per cent of a worker's salary will be used to cover training expenses, which can be deducted from their taxable income.
"This shows that providing equal opportunities has been treated as the breakthrough point of solving the imbalance, which is significant to promoting social justice,'' said Lu.
Children of migrant workers will also receive the same education opportunities as urban children, according to the new circular.
It said urban public-funded schools should be opened to the children of migrant workers and education authorities in various regions should include migrant children in their nine-year compulsory educational programme.
In addition, China's central government issued a notice giving instructions about a nationwide project aiming to provide constant financial assistance to students from poor families.
"These efforts reveal the development view of the new government. The core of the view is harmony, which focuses on solving the imbalance between rural and urban areas,'' said Wang Dongjing, a professor of the Party School of the Communist Party of China Central Committee.
With the implementation of these policies, millions of migrant workers like Zhang will be able to change their lives, said Wang.
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