As China's college graduates swarm to all kinds of employment fairs in this job-seeking season, the government is set to give them a leg up. A guideline on employment promotion recently released by the State Council, China's cabinet, lays out measures for creating diversified job opportunities for college graduates. The document also details steps to be taken to boost job creation in all sectors of society.
Employment is vital to people's livelihoods and forms the foundation for economic growth and social stability. Therefore, employment and unemployment rates are important indicators for gauging a country's economy.
The unemployment rate in 31 major Chinese cities stands at the low level of around 5 percent, according to surveys of the National Bureau of Statistics. A review of statistics from 100 cities conducted by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MHRSS) shows the number of new jobs increased 7.8 percent and the number of applicants grew 2.1 percent in the first quarter over the same period last year. The figures show that China's job market remained stable, as the increase of new positions surpassed the rise in applicants.
However, in spite of this stability, challenges are not to be underestimated. First, around 7.95 million college graduates will enter the job market this year, an increase of some 300,000 year on year. Ensuring employment for the record number of graduates is an issue the government faces.
Second, workers laid off from sectors with overcapacity—such as the iron, steel and coal industries—require resettlement. Last year, resettlement was carried out smoothly, with 726,000 workers from these industries being reemployed. The government faces daunting challenges this year, as more workers will have to find new jobs as a result of the furthering of supply-side reform, which focuses on cutting overcapacity, destocking, deleveraging, reducing corporate costs and improving weak links. Only when laid-off workers are properly resettled can this crucial reform be considered successful.
Another challenge is to guarantee employment for surplus labor from rural areas. In the past, surplus rural labor was primarily employed in export-oriented factories in the coastal areas of east and south China. However, many migrant workers lost their jobs as a large number of export-oriented enterprises closed down due to sluggish demand for exports in the wake of the global financial crisis in 2008.
The government has introduced a series of measures to meet these challenges and will continue to launch new initiatives to address the issues.
For instance, given that non-profit organizations are becoming increasingly attractive for college graduates, the government will grant them incentive policies equal to those enjoyed by enterprises, including tax reduction and exemption and social insurance subsidies. It also provides job-hunting allowances to college graduates from impoverished families. Where conditions permit, the government encourages the setting up of foundations, with the support of local government finance and private investors, to provide funding for college graduates seeking employment or starting their own businesses.
The government also subsidizes enterprises that resettle laid-off workers within their organization. It grants tax relief to enterprises that take on laid-off workers. Those who start their own businesses will be given priority to set up shop in business start-up incubators, where they will enjoy favorable tax and financing policies. Finally, as part of its public welfare program, the government will provide job opportunities to workers who have difficulty finding new work.
For surplus rural labor, the government encourages them to go back to their hometowns to make a new start. There have been many successful cases of migrant workers, having accumulated capital and acquired skills and knowledge in larger cities, returning to their hometowns to start their own businesses. In this year's annual survey of 500 villages in China conducted by the MHRSS, the number of migrant workers working away from their hometowns was 279,000 at the end of the first quarter, down 2.1 percent year on year, while those employed in local non-agricultural sectors totaled 60,000, up 7.1 percent year on year.
These measures taken by the government conform to China's national conditions and will have positive effects in promoting employment. With these measures in place, it is believed that China's unemployment rate will continue to stay at a low level this year, in spite of mounting challenges.
Copyedited by Chris Surtees
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