Training of Putonghua-speaking staff can boost tourism, integrate Xinjiang into national economy

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2018/10/22 22:33:39

The ongoing recovery of tourism in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has created huge demand for Putonghua-speaking staff in tourism-related sectors. The skills that people have acquired in vocational education and training centers will help meet the market demand.

In the first eight months of 2018, domestic and overseas tourists made 105.9 million trips to Xinjiang, up 40.93 percent from a year earlier. Xinjiang's security situation has been improving in recent years, making the region an increasing popular tourist destination. The rise in visitor arrivals is expected to continue in the coming years.

But the tourist recovery means there is a yawning talent gap. Local authorities recently unveiled a plan to create 100,000 jobs by 2020 in tourism-related sectors, of which 10,000 jobs will be offered to poverty-stricken households in the southern part of Xinjiang.

Many of the people who live in southern Xinjiang are Uyghur Chinese who cannot speak Putonghua, China's official language. Although Xinjiang has rich tourism resources to attract domestic tourists, the lack of Putonghua-speaking staff in tourism-related sectors has been a major bottleneck in the development of Xinjiang's tourism.

There is an urgent need to recruit skilled workers and reduce poverty. That's where the government's education and training centers come in. At these centers, unemployed people can acquire the necessary skills and technology to find new jobs by learning Putonghua, national laws and vocational skills.

Some Western media outlets have claimed that there are massive human rights violations in Xinjiang. They have lashed out at the vocational education and training centers and compared the region to an open-air prison. They may be happy to see that Xinjiang's villages and counties remain poverty-stricken and act as a big destabilizing factor in China. However, Chinese people do not agree with this view.

Despite Western media attacks on Xinjiang's vocational education and training centers, the government should continue to offer opportunities for people to learn Putonghua and vocational skills.

Xinjiang has enjoyed rapid growth but its economy still lags behind other Chinese regions. The country is trying to integrate Xinjiang into the national economic chain, so language and skills training are necessary to achieve this goal.

If we want to see massive economic change in a short period, methods such as vocational training designed to increase local people's chances for employment and learning Putonghua which aims to remove communication barriers may not be a bad choice to alleviate and ultimately end poverty in Xinjiang.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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