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Gov't Project Helps Unemployed Families
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Liaoning provincial government yesterday launched a trailblazing program to improve the lives of the many unemployed people in the northeastern province.


Authorities promised that members of "zero employment families" (ZEF) would receive gainful employment 20 days after registering with the program, called the Liaoning Long-term ZEF Aid System.


ZEF refers to urban families in which all family members, no matter how capable, are unemployed.


Liaoning Province, the nation's traditional heavy industrial base, experienced a rise in unemployment as State-Owned enterprises (SOEs) declined in the early 1990s.


Statistics from the Liaoning provincial Labor and Social Security Department show that 1.38 million people were unemployed at the beginning of 2006. There are about 140,000 ZEFs.


"This program is our promise to these laid-off workers and citizens," said Li Keqiang, secretary of the Liaoning Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China.


The program is comprised of three policies:


First, a database will be set-up covering all 14 cities in the province. The database will be updated with every change in a person's employment status.


Second, jobs will be created. This will be done through the purchasing of public-welfare positions for low-skilled workers, and the introduction of tax incentives to encourage private enterprises to recruit.


Third, professional training will be improved. ZEF members will be offered free places on training courses to provide them with the skills needed in the modern work environment.


Success in job creation is likely to determine the success of the project.


"We cannot cut corners in our efforts to create more jobs," said Zhang Wenyue, governor of the province.


"Jobs, jobs! This is always the priority of the government's work," added Li.


"ZEFs are the key to solving this problem. They are thirsty for help and support," said Li.


Wang Rui, an employee of a local property company, said he welcomed the policy. His parents were laid off in 2000 by an SOE.


"At least, I can feel the government is trying to help us," he said.


"The 20-day-rule shows the government's resolve to tackle this issue. I am optimistic about the future," said Wang.


Jin Si, a researcher from Liaoning Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, gave his support to the policy.


"This is the most functional and proactive employment policy I've ever seen," he said.


However, Wang suggested that the local government should pay closer attention to the individual skills of ZEF members and provide appropriate training, so as to realize the maximum benefits.


(China Daily May 23, 2006)

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