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Calls for Schooling for Young Migrants

Calls have been made for more education and training for young migrant workers amid an escalating crime rate involving laborers born since 1980.

Members of the Shanghai municipal committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference yesterday appealed to the education and other government departments to involve more young workers in social education programs and grant them equal opportunities to live better lives in the city.

They urged the government to take concrete steps to safeguard the interests and rights of the migrant workers, such as providing them with cultural activities and political rights.

They also called for authorities to address the problem of defaulted salary payments, a longtime headache to migrant workers and the authorities.

In a proposal unveiled yesterday, the city's trade union said that migrant workers born since 1980 have become the main labor force in cities.

They now account for about 60 percent of the total migrant population, the Shanghai trade union said.

In Shanghai, 1.8 million out of 3 million migrant workers are aged under 28 and more than 1 million have said they intend to settle down in the financial hub.

But these young workers are different from their parents' generation, a union leader said.

Lu Yongjie, vice-chairman of the Shanghai municipal trade union, said they are not content to do the dirtiest, most tiring and least promising jobs.

They are more likely to be employed as security guards, apprentices and service staff in hotels, public bathrooms or karaoke parlors, he said.

"The crucial contrast between their aspirations and reality, however, have resulted in a negative impact on their mentalities, with some of them becoming involved in reckless criminal activities," Lu said.

The rate of crime involving young workers has been steadily rising, he said.

"The arrogance and indifference of city-dwellers toward these workers might prove costly in the future," he said.

"Equal rights to education, employment and training are crucial to the city's stability and development."

The union official urged educational departments to open up the city's institutes to young migrants.

In addition, he called on local labor departments to provide young migrant workers with more free training in an effort to boost their opportunities to find employment.

But the group needs more than training, Lu said.

"Psychological counseling is also very important," Lu said.

"The government needs to set up a special task force to research this area.

"A stable society and equal opportunities need not be empty talk if the government and social agencies show more care for these people."

(China Daily January 24, 2008)

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