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Night Schools Make the Grade for Migrant Workers
A night school for migrant workers turned Yi Guangmu from a peasant into an important technician at his company.

"Thanks to the training offered by the school, I became the head of our team for water and electricity installment," said Yi, who works at the Chengdu Construction Corporation in Southwest China's Sichuan Province.

Yi bought a 60-square-metre apartment in Chengdu, capital city of the province, and now enjoys a salary of 3,000 yuan (US$360) per month.

"The training not only helps increase the salaries of migrant workers, but also the quality of our construction projects," said Zhang Jun, general manager of the company.

Since the first night school was launched by the company in 1997, 30,000 migrant workers have learned professional skills, laws and regulations, and job hunting skills in such schools.

In Sichuan, over 13 million migrant workers, unemployed rural laborers, go to cities annually.

Some 6 million of them went to eastern coastal provinces and municipalities, and even to central and northwest China, for employment.

This year, the province has offered job training to more than 2. 1 million potential migrant workers, of which 1.47 million received certificates, said Ma Shaoxing, deputy director of the Development Office for Labour Services under the provincial government.

In the next five years, the province plans to train another 10 million potential migrant workers before their transfer.

"The lack of technological skills and experience makes it hard for them to find well-paid jobs in cities," said Ma.

Sichuan's effort is just one part of an ambitious plan by China to offer training to its huge army of migrant workers in the next few years to help with their employment.

According to the plan issued by the State Council in October, about 200 million potential migrant workers will receive basic training during the next seven years.

The Chinese Government hopes the plan can help turn its large number of peasants into skilled workers to speed up the pace of modernization.

Facts also proved that to transfer the surplus rural labor forces can help narrow the gap in development between the urban and rural areas.

"The transfer will deeply affect the economic development and society," said economist Hu An'gang.

He said the total income of migrant workers in central China's Hunan Province last year was nearly equal to the province's financial revenue.

The migrant workers not only increased the income of their families but also started businesses and helped the local economy when they returned.

"They act as a harmonizing factor in relations between the urban and rural areas during the course of building a well-off society," Hu said.

Statistics show of the 200 million unemployed rural laborers, only 9.1 per cent have received professional training.

With increasing economic development and the emergence of new industries, it is getting more difficult for the rural labour force to find employment.

Aware of the urgency of the task, both the central government and local governments have begun to implement the plan.

(China Daily December 22, 2005)

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