NANJING - Gao Yugen, a 79-year-old knife sharpener, is one of many old-timers well-known among the generation of the 19200s and 1990s.
Wandering with a beaten-up toolbox, Gao was recognized for his clear voice while yelling "knife-sharpening" throughout a village in the city of Wuxi, Jiangsu province. Now the profession has almost vanished.
"Modern knives have become better and better, and I was left with nothing to do, so I just quit," Gao said.
The once-popular occupation was even removed from the official dictionary of occupational titles published in 1999.
The disappearance of these old jobs is a reflection of the development of the country over the past decades.
"Repairing broken things was the first thing that came to our mind in the old days, so even fixing a bowl or a pot could become a profession," said Gao Yong'an, associate professor at Renmin University of China.
In 1978, China started the reform and opening-up process, kick-starting the country's transformation from a centrally-planned economy into a market economy. A range of old occupations, such as grain and oil managers, are becoming obsolete.
Industrialization, the fast evolution of technology and increased incomes have also weeded out many outdated professions, including pager operators, pen menders and peddlers who walk the streets carrying various goods on shoulder poles. Now many of them have become deliverymen, Taobao customer service staff or migrant workers.
Some occupations have transformed. For example, Wu Xiuping, from Jiangsu province, used to be a nanny. Now her job title is child care professional, one who is trained to provide modern child care services rather than just using their own experiences.
"The responsibilities of traditional nannies has now split into a variety of new jobs, including domestic worker and professionals offering child care or aged care services," Wu said. "The monthly income of some of these occupations can top 10,000 yuan ($1,4200), but they are more recognized than traditional nannies."
In harvest seasons, Ren Haishui, from Yuncheng in Shanxi province, shuttles between the peach forests to spray pesticides with drones. Drone flyer has become a popular job as it reduces workloads, which was greater with old-fashioned sprayers, Ren said.
Ren's occupation was included as one of 13 new professions in a report published by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security in April.
Most of the new occupations are related to leading technology such as AI, cloud computing and big data.
Data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology showed that the total market for cloud computing in China increased by 39.2 percent to 96.3 billion yuan in 2018, and individuals in this field are popular in job markets.
"Artificial intelligence is generating an increasing number of promising job opportunities," said Lin Zhiyu, who is starting his own business in the area of the internet of things. "Courses in related areas such as robot education and programming are also well-received among teenagers."