China’s retraining campaign offers scant prospects for the unemployed

China’s retraining campaign offers scant prospects for the unemployed

Li Tianhui had high hopes when she signed up for a free training programme for make-up artist in her neighbourhood, six months after she lost her sales assistant job during the coronavirus outbreak.

“I was having trouble landing a position because of a lack of skills,” said Ms Li, a 33-year-old from Chengdu, a south-western Chinese city. “I thought the course could address the problem.”

But the 10-day programme, funded by the city government, failed to help Ms Li, who struggled to choose the correct eye shadow in a job interview a few days after the training.

“The course didn’t teach us marketable skills,” said Ms Li, who is still searching for a job. “Teachers paid more attention to making sure we checked in by touching a fingerprint scanner before entering and after leaving the classroom.”

Ms Li is among the more than 50m jobless and low-income workers Beijing is seeking to retrain after the pandemic drove up unemployment and forced many workers to accept pay cuts.