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25 million more people seeking work this year, minister says
Employment challenges are growing due to an unbalanced job market and a large number of people seeking work, a top labor official said on Wednesday.
"Cities and towns will see 25 million more people join the workforce this year, over half of whom will be university and college graduates, while another 9 to 10 million will be surplus rural laborers," Yin Weimin, minister of human resources and social security, said at a news conference.
Graduates are finding it difficult to get jobs and many enterprises are facing problems in recruiting workers and technicians, revealing structural problems in the work market, he said.
China aims to create more than 9 million jobs this year and keep the registered unemployment rate below 4.6 percent, according to the government's work report released on Monday.
Some analysts believe that slowing economic growth will see enterprises reduce their intake of new workers, exacerbating the employment situation.
China is aiming for GDP growth of 7.5 percent this year, much lower than 2011's 9.2 percent.
Ling Lanfang, chairman of the Huzhou-based Silk Road Holdings Co Ltd, said his firm has not noticed labor shortages this year.
"The recent closure of many small and medium-sized companies in the Yangtze River Delta region has already provided a good supply of labor for bigger companies like us," he said.
A quarterly report released by Hudson, a leading human resources company, in January found that 66 percent of the 650 corporate officials surveyed expressed a willingness to hire more workers in the first quarter this year. This represented a 6 percentage-point slump from last year.
This year's employment outlook for graduates is tougher as 200,000 more will leave college this year than last.
Liu Qingrui, an official with the employment promotion center at Northeastern University, said his school has provided help to graduates seeking work.
"We provide psychological guidance for students who are not confident in finding a job and we also subsidize students from poor families if they travel to other cities for interviews. We also invite enterprises to our school to provide advice to graduates," he said.
But Liu Xin, a human resources professor at Renmin University of China, said slower growth might be good for employment for both workers and graduates.
China's rapid growth was largely driven by massive investment in areas such as railways and construction and this mainly benefited State-owned companies, which absorb fewer workers than small and medium-sized enterprises, he said.
"A lower GDP expectation might mean that the government will make greater efforts to help smaller enterprises survive and prosper," said Liu.
Yin Weimin said the government would introduce a package of measures, such as more training and more efficient public services, to help expand the job market.
To help with the employment of graduates, Yin said that the government will encourage them to find grassroots-level jobs in central and western regions and would encourage graduates to start their own businesses.
Shi Jing in Shanghai, Luo Wangshu in Beijing and Li Wenfang in Guangzhou contributed to this story.
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SOCIAL POLICIES DRAWN UP
Policies, processes and standards have been worked out for foreign workers joining China's social security system, Deputy Minister of Human Resources and Social Security Hu Xiaoyi said on Wednesday.
Hu said at a news conference that foreign workers joining China's social insurance system is founded in the Law on Social Insurance introduced last July, and now the ministry and local governments are promoting the work in an active and steady manner.
Hu added that a major issue is to negotiate bilateral social insurance agreements with other countries and regions. So far, a total of 15 rounds of negotiations with seven countries have been arranged this year.
Hu said the ministry has issued more than 200,000 work permits to foreigners, but the number of foreigners who have signed up to China's social security system was still being calculated.
The social insurance scheme that took eff ect on Oct 15 last year allows foreigners with work permits in China to receive retirement, unemployment, medical, work injury and maternity benefits — the same as those for Chinese citizens.
"With the legal basis and the coordination between China and other countries, the work will be advanced smoothly," added Hu.