What do you want to be when you grow up? That’s the question millions of children in China ask themselves, but for those who will make the big journey from rural to urban areas in search of opportunities, it’s not always as straightforward as they imagine.
More than two-thirds of China’s 269 million rural migrant workers who moved to cities in 2013 were born after 1980. Many jobs in these urban areas require some level of technical and vocational expertise, but only 20% of migrant youths actually have these skills, creating a major gap between expectation and reality. Many young people end up relying on manual labour work to get by.
Getting on the ladder
Vocational training can help young people get a salary of up to 21% more than their untrained peers. Plan International China works with children, community members, government agencies and civil society organisations on a Livelihood Advancement Business School (LABS) programme to help youth learn skills that will make them more appealing to potential employers.
The focus is on those who may have dropped out of school or been living in poverty, with a number of scholarships available.
Plan International China works on projects with a number of partner organisations. One of them is Shanghai Young Bakers. Accepted rural youth do one-year courses to learn all about baking and also brush up on their English knowledge, life skills and social etiquette to mould them into the next wave of star employees.
Baking a difference
Nineteen-year-old Han from Pucheng County started the course in 2013 and is now a proud baker.
“I found that my life has many more possibilities now, and what I learnt is not only job skills, but life skills that give me a confident outlook towards my future.”
Another graduate, Li Na, said, “I got the chance to continue studying, and my internship at a 5-star hotel encourages me that my life is full of hope and possibilities.”
Miss Wang, 24 years old, is also working at a 5-star hotel as a baker: “I am now clear about what I want. Entering into the big city, Shanghai, I want to stay here and realise my dreams.”
Learn more about Plan International's work in China.