Saturday, May 25, 2024

China’s job market stable, aided by policy measures, emerging careers

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Job seekers attend a job fair in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, on April 20, 2024. [Photo/VCG]

BEIJING — China continues to demonstrate its economic vitality, but any assessment of overall economic health cannot ignore the employment figures. So how is the country”s labor market faring these days?

China created a total of 3.03 million new urban jobs in the first quarter of the year, official data showed Tuesday. The surveyed urban unemployment rate on average in China stood at 5.2 percent in the first quarter of this year, down 0.3 percentage points from the same period last year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Calling it “a good start” for the year, Chen Yongjia, an official with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, told a press conference on Tuesday that the employment situation has remained generally stable, with the main employment indicators staying steady in the first quarter.

Data covering 38 major cities from online recruitment platform Zhaopin revealed that job market demand has surged following the Spring Festival as businesses resume operations. The scale of recruitment has increased week by week, significantly heating up the employment market. Industries related to service consumption, such as transportation, logistics, catering and tourism, are leading the growth in recruitment.

However, some industries and small and medium-sized enterprises are still in the process of recovery. Additionally, the number of new workers needing urban employment has reached a historical high this year, which means that certain groups will continue to face employment pressures.

This year, China aims to create over 12 million jobs in urban areas and keep the surveyed urban unemployment rate at about 5.5 percent. The goal “indicates a stronger commitment to ensuring employment,” said Chang Hee Lee, director of the International Labor Organization Country Office for China and Mongolia.

Policies targeting key groups 

The estimated number of university graduates across China in 2024 is expected to reach 11.79 million, an increase of 210,000 compared to the previous year. According to this year’s government report, China will strengthen measures to promote the employment of young people, and improve guidance for them in finding jobs or starting businesses.

China has improved access to labor market information through online platforms and career-guidance services to enable young people to make informed decisions about their career paths and increase their chances of finding suitable employment. In addition, in recent years, China’s public employment services have made even more comprehensive measures to reach out to the campuses and provide on-site career guidance and employment services to university students, said Chang Hee Lee.

Northeast China’s Liaoning province recently hosted campus job fairs at four universities and a convention and exhibition center. According to statistics, these five events brought together nearly 500 employers, offering 13,000 job opportunities. At the venues, over 4,600 resumes were collected, with 1,300 preliminary employment agreements being reached. More than 2,000 university graduates received policy consultation services.

On April 10, the local authorities in Baoan District of Shenzhen held a job fair featuring 83 companies offering over 2,600 positions for university students. The event attracted nearly 1,000 graduates. Many of them traveled from Henan, Shaanxi, Shandong and other regions to apply for jobs.

“Finding a job is still not easy, as employers generally require internship experience or practical experience,” said Li Jiacheng, a bachelor’s graduate in software engineering from Xi’an Fanyi University. “However, there have been quite a few companies recruiting recently, and there are a few positions that match my major. I plan to apply to several more companies.”

Authorities have beefed up efforts to provide new employment opportunities for rural workers with aspirations for employment and entrepreneurship, especially those who had been lifted out of poverty, another key group in China’s job market. The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and eight other government departments jointly launched a special campaign with a string of online and offline activities from Jan 25 to April 8, with the aim of providing some 30 million job opportunities.

Li Peng, 52, who was lifted out of poverty, has found employment with his sister at a local blueberry farm in Yongren county of the Chuxiong Yi autonomous prefecture, Southwest China’s Yunnan province. Each earning approximately 150 yuan ($21) per day, their employment is secured with the help of an employment service station set up by the local human resources department relying on local industrial clusters.

“Thanks to the employment service station, our food and accommodation are covered, and staff from the station assisted us in matching with job positions. We are very satisfied with our work and life here,” said Li.

China aims to accelerate the development of a cohesive grassroots employment service framework that integrates top-down alignment, business connectivity and data integration, which will enhance the uniformity and accessibility of public employment services, Chen told the press conference.

Emerging careers

China is accelerating the development of a modern industrial system anchored by advanced manufacturing, which in turn is rapidly driving up the demand for skilled personnel. According to a report issued by the Social Science Academic Press in April, China faces an overall shortage of about 25 to 30 million digital talents.

Yun Donglai, an official with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, said that the trend reflects the ongoing transformation and upgrading of traditional industries, as well as new trends and opportunities in the development of new quality productive forces.

In BYD, China’s leading electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer, for instance, there is a high demand for system architects, software professionals and artificial intelligence experts, according to Xun Meng, deputy general manager of the human resources department at BYD.

Over the past three years, Qingdao University has suspended enrollment in four majors, including digital media technology and educational technology, while adding new programs like robotics engineering and intelligent manufacturing engineering, with a gradual increase in the enrollment plans for majors in science, engineering and medicine.

“In response to the uneven demand across different fields, we are flexibly adjusting program offerings based on job-market feedback,” said Chen Tao, vice-president of Qingdao University.

In the latest edition of China’s National Occupation Classification Code, 97 digital occupations have been identified for the first time, such as internet marketing specialists, fintech professionals and e-sports personnel. Also added was a new sub-category of “digital technology engineering personnel.”

The graduates of the class of 2024 majoring in mechatronics integration technology have all been recruited by enterprises and thus secured their jobs, said Peng Ying, vice-president of Shenzhen Institute of Technology. “Next year, we will launch a major in the application of intelligent connected vehicles technology.”

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