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Job market still a priority for young aspirants

By Cheng Jie | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-07-28 07:24
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As graduation nears, university students look at company profiles and available positions at a job fair in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, on May 16, 2021. YANG SUPING/FOR CHINA DAILY

China's economy achieved 12.7 percent growth in the first half of this year, increasing the chances of employment for young graduates. The industrial sector, and State-owned and large enterprises have recovered relatively well from the impacts of the novel coronavirus outbreak, but the service sector, and small and medium-sized enterprises face bigger challenges.

Fortunately, China's job market was relatively stable in the first half. National Bureau of Statistics data show about 6.98 million new jobs were created in the first six months of this year, fulfilling 63.5 percent of the goal for the whole year. In June, the surveyed urban unemployment rate was 5 percent, the same as in May, which means the sudden and unprecedented economic blow dealt by the pandemic didn't affect the general trend of China's employment market. Moreover, graduates are likely to find employment within two years.

Also, new reforms in the technology sector have accelerated the transformation of the labor market and created several new occupations. Recent years have seen graduates getting more career choices, beyond the traditional forms of employment. This trend can help optimize the allocation of human resources, boost the development of innovation-oriented enterprises, and change the traditional concept of employment.

But young migrant workers deserve greater attention, because they are not as well-educated as college graduates, or do not have enough work experience. Most young migrant workers flock to affluent eastern coastal areas, work in low-end manufacturing units and the service sector, and lack the ability to adapt to new technology and thus can be more easily replaced by robots.

Besides, many young migrant workers prefer to work in the service sector, rather than the manufacturing industry. According to the NBS data, from 2015 to 2020, the number of migrant workers in the manufacturing sector dropped from 31.1 percent to 27.3 percent, while that in the service sector increased from 44.5 percent to 51.5 percent.

The NBS data also show that the monthly income of migrant workers in the manufacturing sector was 4,096 yuan ($633) in 2020, compared with about 3,000 yuan in the service sector. This means that many of them avoided the higher-paying manufacturing industry to work in the lower-paying service sector.

And although employment in the platform economy of e-commerce can increase the flexibility of the labor market, make resource allocation more efficient, ease the impact of external factors and provide more opportunities for low-skilled workers, it will increase instability in the labor market.

The traditional social security system based on employment relationship is facing challenges from the platform economy, as some platform companies sign service contracts rather than labor contracts with their employees, leaving a large number of workers uncovered by the country's social insurance system.

The employment of youths is crucial for the well-being of the entire society, as well as social stability and high-quality development. As such, the employment policy must be more inclusive and forward-looking, and the government should optimize the social insurance system, encourage skill training and help improve young people's ability to adapt to the economic transformation, in order to prevent mass job losses.

Furthermore, the government needs to integrate resources of communities, job training centers, vocational schools and universities to attract unemployed youths to undergo skills training. It should also cultivate young talents in fields such as cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence and internet of things, as well as implement favorable policies such as tax and fee cuts, and introduce financial aid to encourage employers to train young talents. There is also a need to establish a lifelong-education system, create opportunities for adult learning program students to enroll in universities, and pilot the flexible credit and admission systems in some colleges.

The author is an associate professor at the Institute of Population and Labor Economics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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