Government support and UNESCO initiatives have tried to rescue the dying crafts tradition, but the younger generation feel they no longer have time to learn its labor-intensive techniques. Instead, they usually pursue employment opportunities in the big cities and take on manufacturing jobs in coastal factories or low-paying positions in the entertainment industry (such as karaoke bars, massage parlors, restaurants and hotels).
It is estimated that 70 percent of the village populations in Guizhou leave to become migrant workers in coastal factories. As migrant workers outside of their home province, they are no longer eligible for health insurance, nor proper education for their accompanying children. Oftentimes, they are overworked, underpaid and live in cramped dormitory-style conditions. If they could find jobs in their own villages, they would certainly prefer to stay closer to home and live with their families.
Recently, there has been a trend of reverse migration where workers are returning to their home provinces for a better life. They return after years of having acquired professional manufacturing skills and understanding the modern demands of standardization in large volume.
These returning villagers are in a unique position to align modern factory experience with the local traditional craftsmanship know-how. They are an experienced work-force now looking for local employment. Providing local jobs and access to global markets will enable them to keep the traditional craft alive and bring much-needed revenue into the local villages.