IV. Employment of Rural Workforce

As people in the rural areas make up the majority of China's population, the Chinese government has paid great attention to employment of the rural workforce. By sticking to the road of urbanization with Chinese characteristics that enables the big, medium and small cities as well as small townships to develop in a coordinated way, the government has made overall plans for the social and economic development of both urban and rural areas, adjusted the structure of agriculture and rural economy, expanded the rural employment capacity, adopted many measures to help the surplus rural workforce to transfer to the non-agricultural fields, and gradually removed the institutional and policy obstacles to urbanization to guide the rational and orderly flow of the rural workforce.

Adjusting the structure of agriculture and rural economy

The Chinese government has actively adjusted the structure of agriculture and rural economy, made great efforts to develop agro-industries other than traditional crop cultivation, and expanded comprehensive agricultural development to raise the overall returns of agriculture. The state has vigorously promoted the industrialized management of agriculture and developed farm produce processing, sales, storage, transportation and preservation to extend the farm produce-related industrial chain.

It has adopted preferential policies in the areas of finance, taxation and credit to support the rapid growth of a group of key and leading enterprises. The state encourages innovation in organizations serving agriculture and the cultivation of middlemen so as to develop socialized agricultural services in an all-round way. The Chinese government has taken the development of township enterprises as an important way to employ the surplus rural workforce.

After some 20 years of reform characterized by institutional innovation, technological transformation, optimized arrangement and industrial upgrading, the market competitiveness of these township enterprises has been continuously improved. Today, China's township enterprises have attained a considerable size and a considerable economic aggregate, to become an important force for invigorating rural economy and increasing farmers' incomes, as well as a major venue for the placement of the surplus rural workforce.

In 2003, the actual increase in value of China's township enterprises reached 3,668.6 billion yuan, accounting for 31.4 percent of the country's GDP. Having become a key prop of the national economy, the township enterprises have provided jobs to 136 million surplus rural laborers, or 27.8 percent of the rural workforce.

Guiding rural workforce to flow in a rational and orderly way

In 2003, more than 98 million rural laborers took up jobs outside their townships, over six times the figure of 15 million in 1990. Throughout the 1990s, the number of farmers working away from their native homes increased rapidly at an annual average of five million. To find jobs in places other than their native homes became a major channel for the transfer of the rural workforce.

Since the early 1990s, the Chinese government has adopted the policy of "treating fairly, guiding rationally, and improving administration and service" for farmers working in cities and strengthened guidance and service work in this regard.

The government has established effective administrative service systems, such as the labor service cooperation system, employment service system and key monitoring system, aimed at bringing into full play the government's functions in information provision and administrative service. On this basis, great efforts have been made to strengthen the building of public employment service organizations, to set up and improve the labor recruitment information network, to carry out recruitment information surveys and to issue timely analysis and announcement of the recruitment needs of enterprises.

The government has worked out the "National Plan for Training Rural Migrant Workers, 2003-2010" to improve vocational training for rural workforce, and planned to provide guiding training and vocational skill training to the 60 million prospective rural migrant laborers in the coming seven years, so as to enhance the overall quality of the rural migrant workers and their employment qualifications.

Proceeding from the overall situation of the national economic and social development, the Chinese government has taken active measures to guide the flow of surplus rural labor for work in cities in line with demand and in an orderly way.

Safeguarding the legal rights and interests of rural migrant workers

The Chinese government has gradually improved the administration of labor contracts for rural migrant workers in cities. Any work unit that employs rural workers must sign labor contracts with them according to law to clarify the rights and obligations of the respective parties.

The government has reorganized the labor market, strengthened supervision over and inspection of the employing units and intermediaries, enhanced management in such areas as wage payment and labor conditions, carried out a special inspection of law enforcement regarding the protection of rural migrant workers' rights and interests, and severely dealt with illegal job agencies and fabrication of false employment information to deceive rural migrant workers, thus effectively safeguarding the rural migrant workers' legitimate rights and interests and the order of the labor market.

Active efforts have been made to develop ways to extend social insurance to rural migrant workers, and in the major localities that bring in rural migrant workforce, such as Guangdong, Fujian and Beijing, the coverage of social insurance has been extended to include rural migrant workers, relevant policies and regulations have been worked out and active efforts have been made to provide social insurance to rural migrant workers in work-related injury, medicare and old-age pension.

Making experiments in development and employment of rural workforce

Since 1991, the Chinese government has made experiments in some areas on the development and employment of rural workforce to explore for specific approaches, means of implementation and policies and measures for the development and employment of the rural workforce in view of different natural and socio-economic conditions.

Meanwhile, efforts have been made to set up a relevant socialized service system, and organizational and administrative forms corresponding to various modes of employment, and studies have been carried out on policies, laws and regulations, as well as macro control measures for the government to manage urban and rural employment in a unified way and to promote the employment of rural workforce.

At present, such experimental work, which is characterized by unified planning for employment in both urban and rural areas, rural migrant workers returning home to start their own businesses, training of the rural migrant workforce, and the promotion of western development, is being carried out in 98 counties and cities in 26 provinces and centrally administered municipalities nationwide.