New generation of migrant workers dreams of brighter future

11:18, April 07, 2010      

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In a few more days, 23-year-old farmer Xie Pengfei will go to a big city to seek a new job. He had returned home to marry a girl from the same village, but he lost the job where he has worked for more than five years.

It is not difficult for Xie Pengfei to find a new job since he began to work in a big city right out of junior high school. But he was unsure about the future because the work did not provide a labor contract or social insurance for him.

Xie said he wouldn't work as a construction worker because it is dangerous. He believes safety takes priority over whether or not the job is suitable.

Xie acquired a driving license during his time in his hometown. He is considering being a driver. Besides the possibility of earning a handsome wage as a driver, he expects to get acquainted with a big boss during work and find opportunities to advance.

According to a poll conducted by Renmin University of China, the three conditions most valued by new generation of migrant workers (born in 1980s or 1990s) are income, development of their specialty and work environment. The poll also shows the average yearly income for migrant workers reaches 34,050 yuan and the average monthly income amounts to 1,728 yuan. It means the new generation of migrant workers is not interested in the low-paid jobs.

Conducted by 116 students from Renmin University of China when they returned home during the 2010 winter break, the poll covers 1,595 new generation migrant workers aged between 14 and 30 from 28 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities throughout China.

Expecting to have a stable job, house and urban hukou

Making more money, learning skills and acquiring experience are the top three motives that drive the migrant workers to go our for jobs, according to the poll.

When asked if they can be urban workers, more than 50 percent of the respondents believe it is "absolutely possible" and 37 percent believe it is "potentially possible".

But in regards to their own identity, more than 41 percent believe "they are not urban," 28 percent say it is "unclear" and nearly 42 percent think they are "urban."

What defines an urban worker? The new generation of migrant workers believes "having a stable job", "having a house" and "having a city hukou" are the top three conditions. But the poll also shows although they have a city lifestyle, they often encounter discrimination. Around 70 percent of them believe a gap exists between them and local city residents.

Sun Heng said the phase "migrant worker" itself signifies inequality. He believes the phrase will be replaced by "new resident, new urban worker or new worker".

To stay or to go?

When asked if they would return home or stay, more than 38 percent of them responded "it depends," more than 27 percent said they "hope to live in the city" and "get a city hukou" and over 23 percent chose to "go home after earning enough money" or "go home as soon as possible."

Although the threshold of school entrance by the children of migrant workers has been reduced in the cities, nearly 76 percent of the children still stay in the hometown. This is related to their lifestyle. It also shows the overall environment and social exclusion of migrant workers has not been significantly improved, experts say.

By People's Daily Online


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