As urbanization increases, more arable land in Shanghai is being reclaimed and in turn a huge group of farmers are now redundant labourers.
The municipal labour and social security bureau is now implementing new plans to relocate such farmers.
According to data from the bureau, there were previously over 3 million farmers in the suburban areas of the city. However, the urbanization process and infrastructure construction have made approximately 1 million of those farmers unable to work.
After land is reclaimed, the municipality intends to offer the farmers a certain sum of subsidies which they can live on.
At the same time, the municipal government wants to encourage younger farmers to learn more trade skills in order to find new jobs, in turn setting up new tasks for the bureau.
"Farmers and workers are treated differently in the current social security system all over the country," said Ding Feng, with the bureau's employment guide department.
By the end of 2002, over 190,000 farmers who had lost their livelihood registered in the municipal social security system, and filled out job application forms and paperwork detailing their work experience.
In the past, farmers who were recently made redundant had never been calculated in the statistics of unemployed workers, but that has now changed.
In the first seven months of 2003, 345,000 new jobs were created, with 72,000 of those going to farmers looking for work, accounting for 20.9 per cent of the total new jobs.
Meanwhile, the bureau has helped over 10,000 such labourers to set up their own businesses with subsidies.
"We will keep on with our efforts to push more companies to take on such labourers and the bureau's job relocation centre will train them to fit in with their new jobs with the necessary skills," Ding said.
From now on, the bureau is working on the project to fit such labourers into over 400,000 new jobs by offering the employing companies subsidies and preferential tax treatments.
The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2005.
(China Daily September 16, 2003)