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Don't Sweat Joblessness: Be Your Own Boss

Finding the job market tough? Don't step back.

Why not embrace becoming a boss instead of job hunter?

The government has launched a three-year programme to help individuals do just that. It is an effort to turn as many as 100,000 people who are finding it difficult to find jobs into becoming owners of small businesses.

Laid-off workers, women, college graduates and urban migrants are expected to become the primary beneficiaries of the national programme dubbed as SIYB (Start and Improve Your Business).

With sponsorship from the British Government, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security are jointly involved in the programme, which aims to create jobs, develop the private sector and reduce poverty.

Andreas Klemmer, chief technical adviser of the ILO's SIYB China Programme told China Daily that the project will be conducted on year-by-year basis.

From this month to next July, the programme will start in 14 pilot cities, including Beijing and Chengdu. Some 50,000 laid-off workers in State-owned enterprises will benefit from training and technical assistance rendered by the programme office.

"For the first year, we will mainly target laid-off workers," said Klemmer, adding that some urban migrants and university graduates will also be included.

Klemmer said ILO has developed a package of training courses that include how to generate business ideas and start, improve and expand enterprises.

He said much experience has been gathered since his organization has implemented such projects in nearly 80 countries worldwide during past decade.

Sources within the labour ministry said that a small-scale pilot programme to help start micro businesses has been launched in three cities, such as the city of Jilin in Northeast China's Jilin Province beginning in 2001.

The government recently has attached more importance to helping start small businesses. Government agencies enhanced their support for the nation's laid-off workers by making bank loans more readily available to them so they can start their own small businesses.

At a teleconference at the beginning of this month, MOLSS and the People's Bank of China (PBOC) - the nation's central bank - revealed that the small-amount guarantee loan system for laid-off workers would be extended to cover 100 major cities by the end of the year.

Vice-Premier Huang Ju said the loan system is an important re-employment policy, and he urged local governments and related ministries to fully implement the policy.

Zhang Xiaojian, vice-minister of MOLSS, said the loan system will help implement the SIYB programme and address China's serious problem of developing employment.

The country's unemployment situation has grown more and more serious in recent years. New college graduates, migrant farmers and laid-off workers from State-owned enterprises are major factors in China's stretched job market.

The urban registered unemployment rate increased from 3.1 per cent in 2000, to 3.6 per cent in 2001, 4.0 per cent in 2002 and 4.3 per cent last year. More rural surplus workers are trying to find jobs in cities.

He said the government will use every means at its disposal to keep the registered urban jobless rate under 4.7 per cent while a total of 24 million job hunters are expected to flood into the nationwide labour market this year.

For students, the situation is much grimmer than last year. The Ministry of Education last week set a target of helping 70 per cent of graduates finding work by September.

(China Daily July 19, 2004)

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