VI. Employment Prospects for the Early Part of the 21st Century
 
 

China will enter a new era of building a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way in the first two decades of the 21st century. The Chinese government is clearly aware that in this period the country will still face severe employment pressure due to various factors, such as the huge population base, age structure of the population, population migration, and the process of social and economic development.

In the coming 20 years, China's population above the age of 16 will grow by 5.5 million annually on average. By the year 2020 the total population of working age will reach 940 million. In the period of the Tenth Five-Year Plan (2001-2005), the population of working age is growing at the fastest rate, increasing by 13.6 million annually on average.

While the population of working age keeps increasing, there are now 150 million rural surplus laborers who need to be transferred, and over 11 million unemployed and laid-off persons who need to be employed or reemployed. The contradiction between overall supply of and demand for labor is thus sharp, and the problem of structural unemployment, characterized by a mismatch between the quality of the Chinese labor force and job requirements, is becoming more and more conspicuous.

It should be noted, however, that in the early years of the 21st century there are many favorable conditions for solving China's employment problem: The Chinese government pays close attention to the problem of employment, adheres to the principle of putting people first, keeps to the concept of overall, coordinated, sustainable development and promotes the all-round development of society and man, thus laying an ideological basis for further solving the problem of employment.

After many years of exploration and practice, the general policy for solving the employment problem has been settled, with a clear direction and matching measures, and a market-oriented employment mechanism has taken shape, thus providing guarantees in policy and mechanism for solving the problem of employment.

The economy keeps developing in a sustained, rapid, coordinated and healthy way, revenue is growing rapidly, the readjustment of the economic structure is progressing smoothly, enterprises are gaining better economic returns and tertiary industry is developing at a faster rate all these will certainly contribute to increasing job opportunities.

The implementation of the strategies for promoting the coordinated development of different areas, such as developing the western region, revitalizing old industrial bases in the northeast and other regions, promoting the rise of the central area, and encouraging faster development of the eastern area, as well as accelerated urbanization, will bring new opportunities for solving the problem of employment.

With the in-depth implementation and improvement of various policies for increasing employment, the policy effects will be further released and the environment for employment and starting businesses will be further improved. China's accession to the WTO, the continuous growth of foreign trade, and closer ties between the Chinese economy and the global economy will provide a favorable external environment for solving the problem of employment.

The general goal

China's general goal in solving the employment problem in the early years of the 21st century is: according to the general requirements for building a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way, to foster and carry out a scientific concept of development, to meet the demand of economic and social development for human resources development and utilization, to satisfy the desire of the broad masses of laborers to work and to raise their income levels, to endeavor to realize relatively full employment, and to control the unemployment rate within limits endurable to society.

It is necessary to increase the posts of employment in large numbers through developing the economy and improving its structure, and enhance laborers' ability to find employment through strengthening education and training, so as to ensure relatively full development and reasonable utilization of China's abundant labor resources.

It is necessary to create a better environment for workers to choose jobs on their own, migrate freely and set up their own businesses, form stable policies and systems for promoting employment, improve a labor market characterized by unity of the urban and rural areas, opening up internally and externally, fair competition, and standardization and orderliness, so as to ensure the smoothness of the employment channels.

It is necessary to control the unemployment rate and average unemployment cycle within limits the society is able to bear, and enable all people having the ability and intention to work to enjoy equal opportunities for employment or to be ready for employment.

In the year 2020, the total employed population is expected to reach 840 million, and the unemployment rate is expected to be controlled at a level endurable to society. By then, the majority of people will have employment opportunities; the small number of unemployed will be guaranteed basic subsistence and prepared for employment; and the society as a whole will be in a situation where there is relatively full employment.

Major measures

Maintaining the relatively rapid growth of the economy, and putting the work of employment and reemployment in a more salient position. China will adhere to the policy of expanding domestic demand and maintain a sustained, rapid and healthy development of the national economy, so as to provide a strong drive for expanding employment.

When making policies for economic growth and industrial readjustment, it is necessary to give priority to the strategic goal of creating job opportunities and expanding employment, to make creating more job opportunities an important goal of development and to ensure that it is expressed positively in the making of macro-economic policies, such as in the drafting of plans for national economic and social development, industrial policies, financial and taxation policies, investment policies, and banking and currency policies, so as to attain the dual goal of achieving a rapid and healthy economic growth and promoting full employment.

Promoting the readjustment of economic structure and the improvement of employment structure in coordination, and expanding the capacity of employment. It is necessary to strengthen readjustment of the industrial structure, ownership structure and enterprise structure. Greater attention will be paid to the development of labor-intensive industries to bring into fuller play their important role in absorbing the labor force.

It is necessary to direct the major part of future efforts for expanded employment to tertiary industry, and, especially, to utilize the large social demand and broad development prospects of the service industry to give further play to its role in expanding employment. Efforts will be made to continuously support and guide the development of the non-public sector of the economy, further carry out various policies and measures to encourage the development of small and medium enterprises and the economy with diverse forms of ownership, strengthen support to them in such areas as investment and financing, taxation, technological service, market development, information and consultation, and personnel training, and encourage them to play a greater role in promoting employment and reemployment.

While continuing to deepen the reform of state-owned enterprises, it is necessary, through the separation of major and subsidiary sectors and reform of the subsidiary sector, to properly place surplus workers, and bring about a coordinated progress of the reform of state-owned enterprises, the readjustment of economic structure and the readjustment of employment structure.

Adhering to coordinated economic and social development of urban and rural areas, and making overall plans for urban and rural employment. It is necessary to coordinate the development of large, medium and small cities on the one hand and small townships on the other, take the road of urbanization with Chinese characteristics, and remove the institutional and policy obstacles to the development of urbanization, so as to create more job opportunities for farmers.

Efforts will be made to cancel restrictive regulations for farmers to find jobs in cities, gradually unify the urban and rural labor market, and strengthen guidance and management in this respect, so as to put in place a system enabling urban and rural laborers to enjoy equal employment opportunities.

It is necessary to protect the legitimate rights and interests of migrant workers from rural areas according to law, and give guidance to the stable and orderly transfer of rural surplus labor. It is also necessary to promote the reform and readjustment of township enterprises, make efforts in developing county economy, and actively expand the space for employment in rural areas.

Establishing and improving a market-oriented employment mechanism with free choice of jobs by laborers as the salient feature and the legal system of the government as the foundation. It is necessary to give more play to the fundamental role of market mechanism in the allocation of labor resources, and form, in particular, a new employment pattern characterized by free choice of jobs by laborers.

In view of the trend of diversification of employment demands, it is necessary to introduce flexible and different forms of employment according to circumstances; to improve the environment for starting businesses, and to encourage individuals to start their own businesses, so as to promote employment; to strengthen in an all-round way the building of government-sponsored public employment service organizations, improve job referral, vocational guidance and training, and provide quality employment services.

Efforts will be made to improve the legal system, clarify the government's responsibilities in promoting employment, and standardize the behavior of enterprises in hiring people and the order of the labor market, so as to guarantee laborers' equal right to employment. In addition, efforts will be made to speed up development of the labor market and to establish an employment mechanism with laborers' free choice of jobs as the salient feature, market regulation as the foundation, and government promotion as the driving force.

Raising the level of education, strengthening vocational training, and tailoring the level of human resources quality improvement to the needs of economic development. It is necessary to fully utilize various education resources, strengthen the improvement of human resources quality, direct major efforts to the promotion of quality-oriented education, stress cultivation of practical abilities, and make efforts in improving education quality, so as to train millions of high-caliber workers, thousands of special talents and a large number of outstanding innovative talents for the socialist modernization drive.

In line with market demand and the demand for enhancing laborers' quality, it is necessary to strengthen elementary education, actively develop higher education, vigorously promote vocational education, adult education and other forms of continuing education, so as to gradually establish a socialized life-long training and education system.

In line with the higher and higher requirements of economic development and sci-tech progress for laborers' knowledge level and work skills, it is necessary to further readjust the structure of vocational education, increase input, construct a modern vocational education system, and vigorously strengthen training of skilled workers, especially high-level skilled workers and technicians. In view of the demand for the readjustment of rural economic structure and the transfer of rural surplus labor, attention will be paid to elementary education and skill training for farmers.

It is necessary to introduce in an all-round way the work preparation system and employment accession system, and achieve the dual goal of improving young laborers' ability for employment and regulating the supply of labor force. Moreover, it is necessary to establish and improve the vocational qualification certificate system, vigorously introduce the system of paying attention both to diplomas and vocational qualification certificates, introduce the vocational qualification certificate system in all technological professions and jobs throughout the society, and establish a close link between school education and social employment.

Making rational arrangement in social security and employment, and providing basic subsistence guarantee and employment assistance for the underprivileged group. It is necessary to guarantee the basic subsistence of the underprivileged by continuously improving the unemployment insurance system and urban residents' minimum subsistence guarantee system. Continued efforts will be made to provide employment aid, develop jobs suitable for the underprivileged group, especially welfare jobs, and help them to get reemployment through preferential policies to encourage enterprises to hire underprivileged persons and provide them with free employment services.

Raising the level of opening-up, and giving play to China's advantage in labor resources. It is necessary to vigorously organize labor-intensive production and processing of superior agricultural products. While steadily increasing export of industrial products with high technological content and high added value, efforts will be made to improve the export competitiveness of labor-intensive products and increase their market share, so as to maintain and increase domestic employment. It is necessary to rationally guide foreign businesses to invest into labor-intensive products or industries at once labor intensive and capital intensive, so as to increase as many jobs as possible. It is also necessary to actively implement the strategy of "going global" and open up the international labor market.