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Nation Faces Grim Job Situation

China faces a major challenge in meeting its goal of creating 9 million jobs this year, a senior official admitted yesterday.


"Based on the current employment situation, the country faces huge job pressure and a grim market in the coming few years," Tian Chengping, minister of labor and social security, said on the sidelines of the ongoing session of the National People's Congress (NPC).


The continuing reform of State-owned enterprises will create a huge number of laid-off workers, who will find it difficult to find new jobs, he said.


Moreover, about 5 million college graduates, the largest number in history, will enter the job market this year, in addition to surplus rural laborers swarming into cities for work, Tian said.


Figures from education departments showed that around 30 percent graduates could not find jobs upon graduation, he said.


Tian estimated that there will be 24 million job seekers this year, but only half will find a job.


Despite this, the country hopes to keep the registered urban unemployment rate below 4.6 percent, Premier Wen Jiabao said in his government work report on March 5.


To alleviate the strain, the government will strengthen training and improve public services for job seekers.


Tian brushed aside concerns that some booming coastal regions such as Guangdong and Fujian provinces are facing a labor shortage.


"It mainly reflects a structural problem. As these prosperous regions upgrade their industrial structure, they need more skilled workers," he said. However, migrant workers from rural areas usually don't meet the requirements.


"The market mechanism will come into play; it can be a better job opportunity for workers, and could help them get raises in salary and other perks," he added.


Zheng Chenggong, professor at Renmin University of China, said the central government should formulate policies such as guiding graduates to seek jobs in less developed central and western parts of the country.


(China Daily March 14, 2007)

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