City strives to retrain laid-off masses
Oliver Chou in Liaoning
OFFICIALS have formulated measures to provide jobs for laid-off workers, but critics have questioned the effectiveness of the programmes, saying the authorities distort the success rates.
The old steel city of Anshan in northeastern Liaoning province has more than 320 re-employment service centres.
A party directive in May last year called for measures to ensure social security and re-employment for people who lost their jobs.
The director of the city's Labour Bureau, Liu Ke, said 95,000 laid-off workers - more than 10 per cent of the 900,000-strong work force in Anshan - needed help.
'We strive to set up service centres at all the state-owned enterprises that laid off workers,' he said.
Wanbang Society is the largest re-employment agency in Anshan and claims to be able to arrange a job within 72 hours as long as the candidate takes whatever is available.
Sponsored by the city Government and the official trade union, the society has reportedly found jobs for more than 4,000 laid-off workers since its inauguration in April last year.
It has 23 service groups providing three-month occupational training programmes in fields such as hair-dressing and foot massage. Enrolment and training are free and the target members are women over 40 with little education.
'Our objective is to help the laid-off workers be self-reliant,' trade union chief Li Shouzhen said. 'They would have to survive in the market with the new skill they acquire from our programme.' Mr Li said the re-employment rate was 99 per cent. Some had become shop-owners, who in turn absorbed other laid-off workers.
The society got 800,000 yuan (HK$750,000) last year from the city Government and the trade union. This year it aims to train 10,000 and find jobs for 6,000.