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Rural Unemployed Find Work Through Online Job System

Wang Guoqing, the son of a farming family from Huangshi village, north China's Hebei Province, is preparing to leave for Shanghai.

The 20-year-old has been hired as a security guard there after learning of the company's job advertisement through the central government-funded online job information system.

After a one-year probation, Wang will be paid 2,000 yuan a month, almost a fifth of his family's entire annual net income.

He is one of the many unemployed rural laborers to find a job since the expansion of the government-supported on-line job information system to the countryside.

A program called "fully employed community", previously conducted in urban areas, has been introduced in the rural areas of north China's Hebei Province and reaches town-level administrations.

"I'm glad I can help my father support the family. I could not have found such a good job so quickly without the help of our job official," Wang says.

He is speaking of Liu Sanbei, Party head of Huangshi Village, who has become busier since he was appointed job official this year.

Liu conveys information from monthly briefings held at the employment service center at Beiwangli Town, which has helped more than 400 villagers to find jobs in Shanghai, Guangdong and Baoding.

"It's hard for our farmers to get jobs without help from the right places," said Liu. "Some of our villagers go to the cities, wander the streets and come back unemployed, and others turn to job agencies, which often exaggerate pay or conceal harsh working conditions."

Huangshi has another 200 farmers struggling to find jobs because they are either poorly educated or lack vocational training, said Liu.

The expansion of the system, part of Hebei's rural poverty alleviation program, is expected to help more farmers, who usually have been poorly informed, to find jobs -- at no charge.

In the midst of unprecedented urbanization, falling earnings have driven evermore farmers to find new lives in the cities.

Ministry of Labor and Social Security figures show China has about 200 million migrant workers, with more than 120 million in cities and the rest in smaller towns, but another 100 million unemployed farmers stay at home.

In Hebei alone, around 1.2 million farmers are seeking jobs -- most come from families with financial difficulties, said Tian Fen, deputy director of the provincial labor and social security department.

The farmers usually have to pay 200 to 300 yuan, almost half of their family's monthly net income, to job agencies, and then they are frequently cheated with false fake job information, said Tian.

However, the info-system, linked with the networks operated by the labor departments in provincial administrations, collects job information across the country and provide it to jobseekers for free, said Tian.

To ensure the farmers get the information, the departments appoint job officials in villages without access to the system, and they are responsible for its distribution and for villagers' responses.

"Our target is to help at least 90 percent of unemployed farmers find jobs," said Tian.

So far, more than 2,000 towns in Hebei are included in the info-system and more than 10,000 villages, or 18 percent of the province's total, have a job official, according to Tian.

"Actually, vocational training has lagged behind market demand," said Tian, adding Hebei planned to provide free professional training for 800,000 farmers this year, almost twice as many as last year.

The training information will also be published through the info-system, said the official.

(Xinhua News Agency June 6, 2007)

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