Granting professional titles to self-taught experts gives impetus to rural vitalization in China

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By Ma Yuefeng, People’s Daily,

Not long ago, 196 folk artisans and new-type professional farmers in Luoyang city, central China’s Henan province, were granted junior professional titles including assistant agronomist and junior artist by the municipal human resources and social security bureau of Luoyang.

The bureau carried out an activity to offer on-site professional title certification services to grassroots talents, allowing them to apply for the certification and receive their title certificates right in the fields.

The certification was an unexpected surprise, said these self-taught experts, who added that obtaining professional titles makes them more confident about settling in rural areas.

With the steady implementation of China’s rural vitalization strategy, the country’s rural talent teams have been constantly expanded and strengthened. However, the development of rural areas is still hindered by problems including the difficulty in attracting, cultivating, using, and retaining talents.

Though with rich practical experience and skills, many rural specialists have been constrained from achieving better career development by their academic background.

In an effort to address the problem, many provinces in the country have actively explored the possibility of granting professional titles to grassroots talents in rural areas for the purpose of breaking the bottleneck in their development and motivating farmers to better master techniques for agricultural production and management.

Offering professional title certification to rural talents is believed to be helpful for retaining outstanding talents and creating a virtuous cycle for gathering talents in the countryside.

Such certification requires special arrangements for evaluation, specially designed professional titles, specially formulated evaluation standards, specially organized certification activities, as well as special policies on the benefits for holders of professional titles.

Northeast China’s Jilin province tailored nine professional titles for talents in rural areas, including agricultural economist, agrotechnician, and agronomist; east China’s Shandong province has piloted a professional title certification system for new-type professional farmers since 2018, which is now officially implemented across the province; in east China’s Zhejiang province, new-type farmers can apply for senior professional title, which is equivalent to professorship at a university, just like personnel who work in agriculture-related public institutions and scientific research institutes.

Professional title certification has brought a sense of honor in work to talents in rural areas. Some farmers who have obtained professional title certificate can enjoy certain government subsidies, preferential policies on technical services, project cooperation, and bank loans, training in national conditions as well as special treatment including vacation and recuperation.

The implementation of a series of policies and measures has exerted considerable influence on rural areas, motivating more college graduates, ex-servicemen, people who returned to their hometowns in rural areas to start their own businesses, and individuals who play a leading role in increasing farmers’ income to devote themselves to rural vitalization.

Talents hold the key to rural vitalization. To further attract and retain talents, rural areas need to consolidate the foundation of industries so that talents can put their abilities to good use. Weak industrial foundation limits the development of talents, which is one of the reasons why some rural areas in China failed to attract talents.

In the fight against poverty, a number of industries with distinctive rural characteristics have enjoyed rapid growth and become important magnets for talents. For example, Queshan county in Henan province has offered great support for people who returned to their hometowns to start their own businesses and encouraged people to establish violin workshops, developing violin making industry from scratch.

More than 60 luthiers have returned to their hometowns in Queshan county one after another, exerting a strong influence on local residents and the development of the violin making industry. As a result, more and more local farmers started to make violins as a sideline.

So far, there are more than 150 violin making-related enterprises in Queshan county. With an annual output of more than 400,000 violins, the industry has provided jobs for more than 2,600 local people.

While consolidating industrial foundation, rural areas also need to improve platforms and services for talents and promote the two-way flow of production factors between urban and rural areas.

Efforts should be made to set up one-stop service windows, rural industrial parks for innovation and start-up firms, incubation and training bases, among other platforms, provide high-quality services for entrepreneurs and help them formulate plans for business development and solve problems in financing, technology, and employment, so as to provide a solid guarantee of success for rural talents who try to start their own business.

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