Migrant workers can earn degrees
2010-12-08 16:26:40 [ Big Normal Small ]     Comment

BEIJING, Dec. 7 (Xinhuanet) -- Yang Shuai never imagined he would take a university course seven years after he forwent the national college entrance examination and became a migrant worker in Shanghai.

The 27-year-old from Anhui province is among the first 1,000 migrant workers in Shanghai to receive three months' training in business administration since late November. The program allows him to learn skills needed by the new generation of migrant workers to continue their self-advancement in cities.

The training program includes economics, management and law courses. Graduates receive associate's degrees in business administration from Shanghai TV University.

Yang is a senior high school graduate who did manual labor for seven years before being promoted to become maintenance manager of Shanghai Wanji Mechanical Construction Engineering Co Ltd. He said the course has not only fulfilled his dream of attending university but also has enabled him to become a better team leader.

"The manager position requires better management skills, which, frankly speaking, are beyond my capacity because of my limited education and experience," he said.

"It is through the course that I have started to learn how to do my job well," he continued.

"Many rural workers of my generation are in the cities looking not only for jobs but also for opportunities for self-advancement. We're capable of doing more than just manual labor."

The new generation of migrant workers, born in the 1980s and 1990s, and who have higher educational levels and more skills than their parents, will become the lifeblood of the industrial workforce during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) period.

Shanghai is home to 4 million migrant workers, who account for one-fifth of the city's population. About 40 percent of the municipality's migrant workers have academic certificates higher than senior high school.

"Unlike their fathers and grandfathers, who toiled in China's southeastern coastal cities to support families back in the rural inland areas, this post-80s generation has been swarming the urban markets in hopes of settling down and winning social recognition," said Fang Yuping, of Yangpu district's labor union, which promotes and organizes migrant worker training.

The number of people living in the cities is set to double by 2050, leading to a level of urbanization unprecedented in human history. More than 400 million people from the countryside will be relocated to cities or see their hometowns urbanized in the next 15 years. The urbanization push is intended to sustain rapid economic growth, the government has said.

"As (migrant workers) have become an integral part of cities, we should accept them and provide them with better opportunities for self-fulfillment," Fang said. He also noted that as China's rural-urban integration will speed up during the period of the 12th Five-Year Plan, migrant workers will find cities to be lands of equal opportunities.

"Progress has been quite obvious in recent years," Yang said.

"For example, migrant workers' children can now be admitted to publicly funded schools, which used to be the exclusive privilege of local students. And more migrant workers are now covered by social security, although the institutions serving urban and rural populations are still separate."

Wang Bifu, one of Yang's colleagues from Suqian, Jiangsu province, said China's urban-rural integration will mean a better future for its vast rural areas.

"I may return to my hometown in the future, because I believe there will be more opportunities for us to start our own businesses," he said.

(Source: China Daily)

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