What is the best- and worst-case scenario for China's job market in light of the novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak? What measures has China taken to minimize the impact? Thank you.
Thanks for your question. After the outbreak of the epidemic, there have been some changes in the job market. Companies have postponed reopening for business, and their employees have also postponed their return trips to the cities to work. Hubei and other regions seriously affected by the epidemic, service industries such as tourism and catering, as well as some medium-sized, small and micro companies have also been facing mounting challenges. At the same time, the sectors and companies related to the prevention and control of the epidemic are facing a shortage of employees, and some recruitment activities have also been postponed. We believe that as we continue our fight against the epidemic, companies will step up their efforts to resume production, there will be more consumption and investment, and the job market will also improve. The fundamentals of China's long-term economic growth remain unchanged, and the fundamentals of the overall stable job market remain unchanged as well.
To improve the employment situation, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and the relevant departments have jointly formulated special plans and introduced a series of measures to ensure stable employment during the prevention and control of the epidemic.
First, we will fully tap into the current job opportunities. We will ensure a supply of employees for key companies, especially those involved in the production of medical materials and supplies, and make full use of the current job opportunities. We will also designate special officials to key companies to connect them with work opportunities, give priority to the release of employment information, and help companies meet their staffing needs by tapping local job markets and adjusting labor supply. As for those enterprises whose staffing needs cannot be met locally, we will assist them to hire employees from other regions. As for the companies which need large-scale and cross-region recruitment, we will formulate special plans to ensure that large groups of employees can be sent safely to their destinations. In addition, we will subsidize companies which have produced and transported supplies for the epidemic prevention and control work during the Spring Festival holidays, and human resource agencies which have helped provide information about job vacancies.
Second, we will support small and medium-sized enterprises to stabilize hiring. We should make sure the policy that subsidizes SMEs for stabilizing hiring has broader coverage – an insured enterprise with less than 30 employees may apply for subsidies paid by unemployment insurance funds if it doesn't lay off more than 20% of its insured employees.
Enterprises may also be included in the training subsidy program if their employees take part in online and offline trainings during their downtime amid the ongoing battle against the epidemic. Victims of the COVID-19 who have taken out secured loans as individual entrepreneurs may also apply for an extension of repayment no longer than a year and still enjoy interest discounts.
We have noticed that relevant government departments and local authorities have of late paid attention to the development of SMEs and issued an array of policies offering tax and fee reductions, financial support, and housing subsidies. We believe these policies will eventually benefit targeted enterprises and facilitate employment.
Third, we will make more efforts to support the groups that need extra help. Our focus will be graduates, migrant workers, and workers in epidemic-stricken areas. We will offer guidance for migrant workers to return to work in an orderly manner. We will create temporary job opportunities based on proximity for those willing to work but have difficulty travelling too far. Those with real difficulties finding jobs will be placed in non-profit organizations and projects funded by the government to guarantee their employment.
We will optimize services for graduates, have more procedures handled online, encourage online interviews as well as the online signing of employment agreements, and facilitate online registrations. We will offer guidance to employers to extend the time period for recruitment, postpone physical examinations, and postpone the signing of employment agreements and enrollment. At the same time, we will adjust the schedules for written examinations and interviews where appropriate when recruiting for government-sponsored institutions, state-owned enterprises and grassroots organizations.
During the prevention and control of the epidemic, we will also allow local governments in heavily-stricken areas such as Hubei province to issue unemployment benefits, no higher than the local unemployment insurance compensation, to insured personnel whose unemployment is caused by the epidemic.
Fourth, we will step up online recruitment. We have launched an online version of the "Spring Breeze Action" and we are striving to provide employment services and online recruitment services round-the-clock.
In short, we will devote every effort and use a diverse set of measures to help people who are willing to work find jobs or start their own undertakings, so as to stabilize the employment situation. Thank you.