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Challenges, opportunities in China's changing job market

By Zeng Xiangquan | China Daily | Updated: 2020-05-11 10:13

College graduates look for jobs in a career fair in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, on Nov 17, 2019. [Photo/Sipa]

Besides, China has a massive number of migrant workers, whose educational background and occupational skills often remain at a low level, which limits their suitability for various kinds of jobs. Chinese colleges have been expanding enrollment since 2000, and have created more graduates, but the lack of working skills sought by employers also increases difficulty in employment. The imbalance between economically developed regions like East China and relatively less developed regions like western China also causes a big gap in the CIER index.

There are strategies to deal with such long-term problems and short-term crises.

First, a steady growth of the micro-economy is essential to stabilize the job market. Major projects should evaluate their positive effect on employment. More job vacancies can be created in the preschool education, health, medicine and internet fields in developing regions.

Transfer payments targeting low-income groups should be increased. Operational costs of companies should be reduced by making cuts in taxes and administrative fees a long-term policy. Besides, since the low labor participation rate is expected to become more prominent due to the aging population, it is time to figure out a flexible retirement system and ways to increase labor participation of women.

Second, new technologies like big data, artificial intelligence and mobile internet are beneficial to the Chinese job market. On the one hand, such technologies can replace human labor in dangerous and difficult posts to improve employment quality, but excessive market intervention from the government should be avoided.

On the other hand, flexible employment mode-where employees are not bonded with a certain employer but are free to earn income from multiple companies as matched by a public platform-has great potential.

E-commerce giant Alibaba has 110,000 employees, but it creates more than 40 million jobs including online retail vendors and deliverymen. Digital cultural platform China Literature has only 1,300 workers, but has 8.1 million literature creators on the platform. But the problem in workers' legal rights and social security in the flexible mode is also a common challenge.

Third, a nationwide platform should be built to share employment-related information like job postings, occupational classifications, occupation outlook, employment quality index, and data on graduates and jobless people. The training of talent should also be more market-oriented and emphasize basic skills like reading, writing and elementary math as well as soft skills like interpersonal communication, analytical ability, organization, team work, responsibility, motivation for achievement and service-mindedness.

Zeng Xiangquan is the director of the China Institute for Employment Research at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, and a specialist researcher at the university's National Academy of Development and Strategy.

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