From next year, migrant workers in Guangdong Province will be eligible to register as unemployed and become entitled to a range of free services, an official with the provincial labor and social security department said yesterday.
Currently, only those who are residents of the province can officially register as unemployed, and hence benefit from the services provided by labor and social security departments.
These include access to information about the job market and employment policies, and details of possible jobs.
"But these privileges will be extended to migrant workers from January 1 next year," Xie Shuxing, director of the department's training and employment section, told China Daily.
From next year, all migrant workers will be able to register as unemployed as long as they have been based in the same city or town for at least six months, he said.
"I would advise them to register with the labor and social security department that is closest to where they live," he added.
The expansion of the registration scheme will place a heavy burden on labor and social security departments, Xie said.
Of the 23 million migrants currently in Guangdong, about 20 percent have worked there for more than six months, he said.
Even if only a small percentage of them apply for unemployment assistance, the departments' workloads will increase significantly, he said.
"We will have to improve our administration systems and find more jobs."
Xie said that the needs of local people and migrants will be dealt with separately, so there will not be any detrimental effect on residents or their opportunities to find work.
In addition, labor and social security departments will arrange training courses for local people to improve their skills and give them a better chance of finding employment, he said.
Budget constraints mean such training cannot as yet be extended to out-of-work migrants, Xie said.
However, Guangdong receives 380 million yuan ($51.4 million) a year from the central government, which is used to maximize job and training opportunities for migrant workers, he said.
(China Daily November 29, 2007)