PLA boot camp looms for 800 jobless school leavers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 April, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 April, 2001, 12:00am

About 800 jobless school leavers are to be sent to a People's Liberation Army boot camp on the mainland to improve their discipline before they enter the workforce.

They will rise early in the morning and be subjected to hours of group marching, wall climbing and basic combat training organised by PLA officers at the Huangpu Military Academy in Guangzhou.

The youngsters, aged 17 to 20, will also have to carry out simple domestic tasks such as making beds and room cleaning. They will have to give up their burgers and cola for rice and plain vegetables.

The voluntary programme, to last up to four days, will form the climax of a youth pre-employment training initiative by Lok Kwan Social Services, a new charity body with strong links to the Federation of Trade Unions (FTU).

'Huangpu youth camp is set up for mainland young people to help make them more independent, something they seem to lack in recent years due to the 'one-child policy',' the FTU's spare-time study centre director, Leung Kai-lik, said. 'We feel it will be very useful for Hong Kong youngsters, too, who will also have the opportunity to learn more about life on the mainland.'

The initiative is being funded by a $3.7 million grant from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust and will last for a year. It also involves training in interpersonal skills and building willpower.

The youngsters will undergo three months of introductory training from one of seven job-types - hairdressing, interior decorating, catering, make-up and image design, clerks, IT assistant and online multi-media production. At the end of the training, they can either get jobs through the help of unions or go on arranged placement.

The group chairman and FTU president, Cheng Yiu-tong, said the scheme was a fine-tuned version of the Government's Youth Pre-employment Training Programme, which offers similar training but over a shorter period.

'Not every initiative is 100 per cent perfect,' he said. 'We just hope to take in the experience of similar schemes and develop areas which we feel the need to be expanded.'