For the first time in China's history, the number of employees working in private enterprise exceeded 100 million, and is expected to reach at least 180 million within the next five years, a 2005 survey found.
Despite quite a few large privately-owned companies going bust in 2005, private sector employment is still expected to grow at a faster rate than State-owned employment, said Cheng Lu, vice-president of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce (ACFIC).
The ACFIC conducted a survey in September on the economy's private sector, excluding enterprises owned by foreign investors, discovering that China's private enterprise employment was at an all time high.
In the Chinese mainland, there are 4.19 million privately owned companies and 24.66 million self-employers, all of who are considered private enterprise employees, according to the ACFIC survey.
But employment in State-owned enterprises (SOEs) is unlikely to see major growth in the near future, Chen said.
The top leaders' proposed 2006 to 2010 Social and Economic Development Plan does not provide for considerable employment expansion.
In fact, Chen said, some SOEs may continue to shed some of its labor.
As about 10 million unemployed workers look for jobs each year, there is expected to be another 10 million or so young people entering the job market, seeking their first employment.
It is also estimated that 1 million or so college graduates will look for alternative opportunities due to discontent with their initial assignments.
Without a doubt, the private sector will be contributing 80 percent, if not more, of new jobs, the ACFIC official said.
The official talked to China Daily when he was in Shenzhen, the southern industrial city sharing borders with Hong Kong, to attend the annual council meeting of Peking University (PKU) Business Review, a journal of management ideas and practices.
Cheng pointed out that, despite growth, there are many problems in the private sector, mostly with employers' lack of care for their employees.
Other problems include poor decision-making processes and lack of innovation and financial commitment to research and development, said Chen.
In his speech to the PKU Business Review council meeting, Chen called on private enterprise owners and managers to build a "new type of relationship" with their workers "not simply between the boss and subordinates, but that based on the equality and mutual respect and care."
The ACFIC is already working with the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, he announced, to elect and award the nation's most caring employers.
(China Daily December 23, 2005)