--- SEARCH ---
Learning Chinese
Learn to Cook Chinese Dishes
Exchange Rates
Hotel Service

Hot Links
China Development Gateway
Chinese Embassies

Rocky Road Leads from Farms to Cities
As the Spring Festival draws to a close, millions of migrant workers will leave their rural communities in search of better incomes, and subsequently improved lives, in China's booming urban centers.

But many of them are in for a rude awakening.

Ministry of Labour officials say jobs are no longer a sure thing, especially for poorly educated employment seekers.

While more than 60 per cent of China's enterprises need migrant workers, the demand increase is slight compared with past years, indicates a Ministry of Labour and Social Securities survey.

More than 90 per cent of those new positions require workers have at least junior high school education, and 30 per cent require high school education.

That is a significant change from 2000, when about 40 per cent of China's workers had junior high school education, and 13.8 per cent were high school graduates, Ministry of Education statistics indicate.

Seventeen per cent of the new positions require that workers have middle-level technical education.

About 94 million farmers worked in cities last year, up 5.24 per cent over 2001. Labour officials suggest the number of farmers moving into urban areas this year could rise by more than 10 per cent.

Meanwhile, the urban unemployment rate continues to increase.

China's official urban jobless rate rose to 3.9 per cent at the end of September, up from 3.6 per cent at the end of 2001.

However, the factual rate is likely much higher, as millions of laid-off workers from State-owned enterprises (SOEs) are not included in the unemployment rate.

Greater cultural and technical degree requirements being imposed on migrant workers are in line with China's industrial restructuring since its World Trade Organization (WTO) accession, said Yu Faming, director of the Ministry of Labour's employment department.

"Fuelled by China's WTO accession, the country's manufacturing industry will be greatly developed and demand for migrant workers will be mainly within this field," Yu recently told China's Central Television (CCTV).

In the past, the greatest demand for migrant workers came from the construction industry, where the technical requirements were relatively lower.

But China's manufacturing industry requires workers to have higher cultural, intellectual and technical qualifications, Yu said.

Many employers in the electronic equipment maintenance and computer software processing sectors pay advanced technical workers up to 5,000 yuan (US$603.90) per month, indicates a recent survey by Beijing's Municipal Bureau of Labour and Social Securities.

Those wages exceed the salaries paid to most senior engineers.

A nationwide training programme will be launched to help migrant workers cope with the rising demands on their cultural and technical skills, Yu said.

However, experts with the China Institute of Personnel Science (CIPS) suggest the situation will only be improved when the remaining barriers blocking the flow of talent and labour are smashed.

These barriers include the permanent urban registered residence, or Hukou, system and the personnel document system, which is a privilege of SOEs.

The barriers prevent migrant workers from remaining in urban areas for long periods of time, which prevents them from improving their education, said CIPS researcher Zeng Yumin.

In addition, the personnel document system and prejudicial policies make it easier for many inefficient SOEs to monopolize skilled labourers, Zeng said.

The dire employment picture isn't limited to migrant workers.

Some 2.12 million college graduates will pour into China's labour market this year, up 46.2 per cent from last year, due largely to the policy adopted in 1999 to expand college and university enrollments.

Some researchers suggest up to 20 per cent of the college graduates might have a difficult time to find employment.

(Business Weekly February 19, 2003)

Print This Page
Email This Page
About Us SiteMap Feedback
Copyright © China Internet Information Center. All Rights Reserved
E-mail: webmaster@china.org.cn Tel: 86-10-68326688