BEIJING, Feb. 20 -- Imagine 25 million men and women
about the combined population of Australia and New Zealand pressing for new
jobs. That is the daunting reality that the Chinese economy faces this year, the
National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has reported.
This is the country's worst employment crisis ever,
as the children of baby boomers flood the job market seeking their first jobs.
Their parents were born in the early 1960s, and they themselves in the late
China can generate only an estimated 11 million new
jobs this year, according to the NDRC. And at no time this decade did they
exceed 10 million a year.
This means that despite a record number of employment
openings about 11 million jobs have to be found for about 14 million people
Guo Yue, a researcher with the Institute for Labour
Studies under the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MOLASS), told China
Daily: "The government is racking its brains to create jobs as it braces for a
real tough year."
An even greater challenge is that the crisis will
continue for more than just one year, said Du Yang, a researcher at the
Institute of Population and Labour Economics of the Chinese Academy of Social
The mismatch between job supply and demand will
continue till 2010, or the end of China's 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10), Du
forecast. He agreed that since there is no control over demand, "the only way is
to enlarge supply, or to create as many jobs as possible."
The most effective way to create new jobs, he pointed
out, is to create a conducive business environment for small- and medium-sized
enterprises, especially labour-intensive operations.
Of the 25 million people who need urban jobs,
according to the NDRC, 9 million will be those joining the job market, 3 million
will be former rural residents who have recently moved to cities, and the
remaining 13 million are workers let go or about to be retrenched by their
employers, mainly as a result of the continuous restructuring of State-owned
Of the 9 million newcomers, 4.1 million will be
graduates, more than at any time in China's history, and an increase of 750,000
over last year.
Some job agencies have already reported feeling the
pressure of the unprecedented number of applications. "The peak demand was a
week earlier this year," said Fan Fangfang, director of the Shanghai Employment
Centre's operations in the city's Pudong area.
Traditionally, she told China Daily, the peak season
would be two weeks after the Spring Festival (Lunar New Year). "But this year,
applicants began swarming our office as soon as we came back from holidays." The
Spring Festival fell on January 29 this year.
A second peak period for job agencies will be in late
spring, when most college graduates enter the market; and a third just before
winter when most contracts come to an end and a new wave of job hopping starts.
But thanks to the fast growth of the economy, the
market is also showing helpful signs, according to MOLASS officials. In one
recent survey of 2,600 companies in 25 provinces, 80 per cent of employers
planned to recruit more workers in the weeks following the Spring Festival.
The number of job vacancies in the survey showed an
annual growth of 15 per cent.
Geographically, most vacancies are concentrated in
the export-led industries and services in the coastal cities, mainly in the
Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta, and the southeastern part of Fujian
Province, MOLASS data showed.
Zhuang Jian, senior economist with the Beijing office
of the Asian Development Bank, told China Daily that despite the seriousness of
the situation, the government has no need to resort to administrative means to
tackle the jobs crisis.
Instead, he said, the government may come up with
targeted solutions based on an analysis of job seekers in terms of their age,
education and skills, so as to help them become more competitive in the job
Training, for instance, should be more widely
accessible for the workers newly migrating from rural areas, he
(Source: China Daily)