Vocational training boosts China's poverty alleviation drive
Yang Jinghao, Luo Caiwen

By teaching how to make traditional dim sum dishes like steamed buns, dumplings and many other delicacies, a workshop in Santai County, southwest China's Sichuan Province aims to equip people from impoverished families with certain skills for more job opportunities. 

"I've learnt a lot from the training. It's of great help to me. Based on what I acquire here, I hope I can open a snack shop in the future to help with my family's livelihood," Li Li, one of the trainees, told CGTN. 

Some farmers from Santai County learn cookery in a vocational training program. /CGTN Photo

Some farmers from Santai County learn cookery in a vocational training program. /CGTN Photo

Over the past three years, the human resources department of Santai County has been providing free training sessions to more than 1,800 farmers who live in poverty. The courses vary from culinary, domestic service to electric-welding programs. 

In China, families with annual income of less than 2,300 yuan (about 325 U.S. dollars ) are identified as those in poverty. According to the blueprint of the nationwide poverty alleviation initiative, absolute poverty will be wiped out by the end of 2020. 

"Through various poverty reduction policies, most of the families have been taken off the 'poverty list.' In order to prevent them from falling back into poverty, it's very important to help them master certain skills to better integrate with society and become self-reliant," said Zhong Bo, head of the employment center of the Human Resources and Social Security Bureau of Santai County. 

Since 2014, China's Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security has launched a series of training programs to needy labor forces across the country. Given the rewarding results, the campaign will continue in the years to come. 

In May, the central government issued an action plan on promotion of vocational skills, aiming to provide various vocational workshops to 50 million person times from 2019 to 2021, giving priority to people from rural areas. It encourages vocational schools to actively participate in the initiative. 

But vocational training is just one part of it. Local governments have also taken measures to help the trainees find employment through different approaches. 

Farmers from Santai County look for job opportunities at a job fair designated for them. /CGTN Photo

Farmers from Santai County look for job opportunities at a job fair designated for them. /CGTN Photo

In Santai County, a database was set up in 2014 to keep track of those in the labor forces living in poverty. Based on up-to-date data, the human resources department provides residents with the latest job openings and holds regular job fairs in the villages. The system has led to the employment of over 13,000 people in the county within the past three years. 

Financial support is also available for those aspiring to start their own businesses.  
"We can provide interest-free loans of up to 150,000 yuan (21,185 U.S. dollars) to whoever wants to create their own programs for two years. If the program succeeds and offers employment to others, we will provide additional support," Zhong said. 

A data released by the country's top economic planner the National Development and Reform Commission in June shows that more than eight million migrant workers have returned to their hometowns to start their own businesses, which created some 30 million job opportunities. 

Li Li says with such policies in place, her dream will not just end up in the air. Like her fellow villagers, she is now more optimistic than ever for a better life. 

(Yun Xiao from Santai County TV Station also contributed to this story)