Guangdong ramps up efforts to woo skilled migrants

Guangdong ramps up efforts to woo skilled migrants
People streaming out of Tianhe stadium in Guangzhou.

GUANGZHOU - THE southern Chinese province of Guangdong, long a destination for migrant workers, is stepping up efforts to grant "high-calibre" workers access to subsidised public services such as education and health care in its cities.

Taking the lead is provincial capital Guangzhou, which says it will ramp up a point-based scheme to grant hukou - a household registration certificate - to those who qualify.

This comes in the wake of an ambitious reform blueprint issued by the central government last Friday. Among other things, it called for changes to a restrictive system that fixes a person's hukou - and thus access to public services - to his place of birth.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Guangzhou executive vice-mayor Chen Rugui said the city is enhancing a two-year-old scheme to help "more knowledge-based and high-calibre personnel become registered residents".

Under this province-wide policy, migrant workers earn points based on their education and skills. When they hit a certain target, they can then apply for hukou. This differs from city to city; for instance, those in Guangzhou require 60 points to qualify this year while those in Shenzhen need 100.

As of March, some 1.2 million migrant workers in Guangdong have attained hukou in its cities.

Within Guangzhou, 6,000 have gained the coveted status - a minuscule fraction of the eight million migrant workers who make up half its population.

Looking ahead, far more will likely be in the offing.

Speaking on the sidelines of the briefing, Mr Chen Haotian, deputy director-general of its reform and development commission, said the city, which now has 8.3 million hukou-registered residents, has the capacity to absorb up to 10 million in the next decade. This translates into a potential 170,000 spots for migrant workers per year.

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