Project Factsheet
Tools for » Protecting and Promoting the Rights of China's Vulnerable Migrants
Project ID:00067197Description:MDGF-1880-H-CHN Protect/Promot
MDG Achievement Fund
Start Date *: 31 Dec 2008
MDGF Youth Employ & Migrant
End Date*: 11 Feb 2012
Country: China Project Status: Financially Closed
  Participating Organization:   Multiple


Young migrant workers under the age of 30 account for some 85 million or 58% of rural migrants. Of these 41% are women. In China the rural-urban gap and inequality have encouraged millions of rural migrants to seek work in the cities. The government is aware of this situation and of the multi-dimensional nature of rural-urban young migrants. A series of targets have been set through a number of plans, laws, regulations and policies with a view to improve rural education and health services, raising rural residents’ off-farm income, and improving social protection of migrant workers (inter alia in the 11th and 12th Five Year Plan). As most of the plans and policies came into effect around 2008, the institutional capacity required to effectively implement the plans and policies barely existed, particularly at the municipal and county level. The Joint Programme through the UN theme group on poverty brought together 9 UN agencies and 25 national ministries and government agencies, as well as 100 local and municipal partners to work together. The programme’s integrated response contributed to building national partners’ capacity to promote and protect young migrants’ social, economic and labour rights.

The JP contributed practice and evidence-based policy advice to national partners in the formulation of new national plans and policies on migrant workers (for example China’s 12th Five Year Plan, 2010-2020 National Education Plan, National Plan of Action on Children’s Development 2011-2020, State Council Guidelines on the Development of the Domestic Industry 2010). The programme team worked in an integrated manner, providing solutions that were specific but coherent with a holistic approach. Many of the research undertaken and pilot initiatives were found to be inter-linked and mutually reinforcing. As an example the Life Skills training package involving 6 UN agencies was implemented for rural youth and young urban migrants to better understand their rights and prepare for safe migration and integration in cities.

Life Skills Training proved to be a valuable resource and training was replicated in 16 counties while it triggered some initiatives (such as Young Volunteers Caring for Migrant Children Action) that incorporated Life Skills and is currently implemented in 2,700 counties across the country, or plans to include Life Skills training for vocational schools in over 200 counties.

Key improvement for protecting the rights of young migrants was the development and implementation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for young migrants in three provinces, with 350,000 children registered, while 16,000 police officers were trained on SOPs, child rights, and referral services.

Improved service delivery (in health) and access to information and counseling for young migrants was achieved. The JP contributed to enhancing capacity of labour inspection through multi-sectoral workshops


Outcome 1:

Improved policy frameworks and policy implementation, with full stakeholder participation.

Outcome achievements:

  • The implementation of extensive outcome activities, based on participatory programme studies, research and assessments greatly enriched the knowledge base about the issues affecting young migrants. A national information platform was launched in July 2010 ( It contains more than a thousand academic research papers and survey reports, and has a 67% positive satisfaction rate from users.
  • Outcome implementation achievements contributed not only to support implementation of on-going national plans, laws and policies, but also provided evidence-based recommendations and suggestions for formulation new plans, regulations and policies. There are numerous examples such as the development of an integrated policy advice paper on young migrants that was presented by the Minister of Human Resources and Social Security to the National Migrant Coordination Committee under the State Council. Recommendations on improvement of the residence system and basic public services among migrants were drafted and presented by the National Development and Reform Commission at a Conference. Recommendations to the Ministry of Civil Affairs on promoting integration of migrant workers in communities have been drafted and discussed are expected to be issued by the Ministry soon. A National Policy document “Guidelines of the Development of the Domestic Industry” was issued by the state council in 2010 with recommendations from the Joint Programme. The registration of migrant children has been included in the NAP on children. Two pilot sites, Changsha and Cangzhou, have issued relevant policies on promoting the social inclusion of migrants, and the education bureau in Cangzhou included the Life Skills Training manual in the school curriculum and replicated the training to all 16 counties. A high appraisal on the survey on migrant integration in the urban community and political recommendations in Tianjin was given by the Secretary-General of Tianjin, who is also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China.


Outcome 2:

Better access to decent work for vulnerable young people promoted through pre-employment education and training.

Outcome achievements:

  • Based on the results of a needs assessment, life skills training were given to rural children between 14 and 17 years of age. The flexible courses included five modules (living independently, basic information technology, social interaction skills, introductory vocational skills and life skills for girls). Trained university volunteers provided after-school tutoring and coaching to migrant children. This initiative (Young volunteers caring for migrant children action) was launched in 2010 and is currently implemented in more than 2,700 pilot counties across the country.
  • Research on policy review and tracer studies were undertaken and showed that curricula in middle schools and secondary vocational schools were not well adapted to the rapidly changing requirements of the labour market and suggested the inclusion of life skills training into the formal schooling.
  • Training of Trainers (TOT) using life skills with young migrant workers as peer educators and including trade unions, enterprises, labour bureaus, educational bureaus and vocations colleges was undertaken, ensuring a pool of human resources that can deliver Life Skill Training in the future.
  • The China Employment and Training Technical Instruction Center plans to extend life skills training to technical schools and vocational training colleges in some 200 counties throughout China.
  • The programme’s participation in research and entrepreneurship training led to a first three pilots for “building up an entrepreneurial city” in Hebei province, with future financial support from the provincial government.


Outcome 3:

Rights of vulnerable young migrants protected through improved access to social and labour protection.

Outcome achievements:

  • The Standard Operation Procedures (SOP) for the registration of migrant children were developed and implemented in Changzhou, Zhongshan and Tianjin, with over 350,000 children already registered. Almost 16,000 police officers, education and health workers (including 7,000 women) were trained on SOPs, child rights and referral services for migrant children. 19 pilot community centers (4 in sending areas and 15 in receiving areas) were selected to develop a community-based one-stop shop offering comprehensive and high quality information and service delivery for migrants and potential migrants using an integrated multi-sectoral approach.
  • A multi-sectoral health promotion model was implemented in migrant sending and receiving areas, and migrant-friendly services packages were given (such as free in-clinic health counseling and multiple health education activities through peer education reaching young people in their working and living places). In parallel migrant youth friendly stations were established in community health centers providing free counseling, a hotline and referral services in a confidential environment. Health professionals were trained specifically on health issues affecting young migrants, including reproductive health, mental health and occupational health.
  • The programme made a significant contribution to strengthening labour inspection in China through multi-sectoral workshops both in pilot sites and at the national level that provided a space for interaction and developing new strategies. The JP also conducted awareness campaigns and training on the rights of young female migrants, particularly those involved in low-end service industries and domestic work. Specific services such as career development counseling was also provided for those who wanted better jobs. The JP advocated for the adoption of special laws to protect domestic workers and developed a code of conduct for domestic worker companies.


Best practices:

  • The following good practices were applied: Close alignment to and strong ownership of government priorities. The effective Joint Programme management and coordination mechanisms, both with the national counterparts but also within the inter-agency arrangements. The JP was instrumental in obtaining an important impact on policy improvements leading to long-term sustainability of sound migrant policies being implemented. The publicity and visibility to multiply the impact of the JP (considering the small pilot areas, publicity on the achievements contributed to finally having the media and the China Central Television report on these events, thus attracting further attention to migrant issues). Also the cooperation between MDG-F programmes (particularly Culture and Development) as minorities compose more than half of the migrants. Life Skills Training was also extended to ethnic minority areas.


Lessons learned:

  • A standard guide for implementing joint programmes should be prepared for the future. There should be further project management staff capacity building, particularly for such complex interventions. There could be better linkages among pilot areas to develop synergies among the outputs (output activities implemented by various UN agencies and their national and local partners in different pilot cities, but a concentration in the same pilot areas would maximize synergies). A single source (basket funds) of funding for activities, rather than separate UN agency funds. A longer programme period is needed, as three years was too short for such a complex programme. Also retaining the JP coordinator beyond the JP implementation period is needed in order to follow up on the closure and prepare the final JP narrative report.


More details can be found in the final project report:

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