Alleviating adverse effects
The provision of vocational training for migrant workers is one of many measures being undertaken by the central government this year to boost employment among the group.
Yao Xiuping, vice-principal of the vocational school Zhang attends, said that as a county with a large number of residents who head out in search of work, Linquan regards training as a crucial way of easing the epidemic’s adverse effect on the employment prospects of migrant workers.
They can enroll at seven designated schools in the county, including Yao’s, to learn skills such as babysitting, flower arranging, housekeeping, performing the tea ceremony and caring for seniors.
The free training sessions at Yao’s school started in mid-February. Initially, they were conducted online because of the COVID-19 outbreak, but were transferred to classrooms in mid-May.
So far, more than 3,000 migrant workers have attended classes. “Of those 3,000, about 1,000 found jobs immediately after training,” Yao said.
Pang Shi, deputy director of the department of employment, entrepreneurship and policy assessment at the Chinese Academy of Personnel Science, said many factors, particularly the global COVID-19 pandemic, pose threats to China’s economy this year. That means some businesses may face production and operating problems.
“Under such circumstances, some enterprises may reduce the number of workers they recruit, making it hard for a number of migrant workers to land jobs this year,” she said.
In April, a report by the National Bureau of Statistics showed that China had more than 290 million migrant workers last year, with 51 percent working in the service sector. Meanwhile, 6.9 percent were employed in the transportation and logistics industry, and an equal proportion in the lodgings and catering sector.
“Migrant workers’ jobs in these two industries are especially vulnerable to the COVID-19 outbreak, and some people face a high risk of becoming unemployed,” Pang said.
President Xi Jinping has repeatedly urged measures to stabilize the employment of migrant workers, encouraging those from areas with a low risk of coronavirus infection to resume work as soon as possible and ordering local governments to make more efforts to fight poverty.
In October, a report from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs showed that the epidemic forced many migrant workers who had traveled to their hometowns for Spring Festival to stay a month longer than in previous years, which delayed their search for work.
The period immediately after China’s most important holiday is traditionally a time when migrant workers look for new jobs, but some returned home because they couldn’t find satisfactory posts.