Urbanisation in China
Cao Fei and Tong Yan are two 17-year-old Chinese girls who dream of escaping farm life to become successful clothes designers.
There are an estimated 200 million migrant workers in China. Most move from the rural west to the more urban areas in the east. Many arrive without the skills demanded by urban employment and end up without work or in low paid jobs. Even so, it is common for these migrant workers to send money back home to support their families. In response to the large numbers of unskilled workers moving to the cities, the Chinese government has set up vocational schools in a bid to limit unemployment. The courses are open to people up to the age of 35 and teach specific job-related skills as well as more traditional subjects. Cao Fei and Tong Yan are part of a new generation of young people in China, with opportunities and ambitions beyond those available to their parents under a strict communist government. Fei and Yan do not want to do the same unskilled physical labour as their parents. They want to do jobs they like with a more relaxed environment. Both dream of becoming clothes designers, partly to be better able to support their families. To realise their dreams, they have enrolled in a vocational school to learn the basics of design and clothes production. The school takes on work producing clothes for private companies. The companies cover the cost of materials while students gain real life experience. They plan to move to the city when they graduate. Both dream of working for big companies and possibly moving abroad but are aware they will miss their families back home.