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China - The leadership puts focus on unemployment

17 May 2013

President Xi Jinping paid an unexpected visit to a job fair in Tianjin on Tuesday, in a move that experts said reflects top leaders’ concerns over the job market according to Chinese news website ChinaDaily.com.cn.

Xi arrived at a human resources center in the port city in the morning, surprising many students and company representatives.

“Employment is the basis of people’s livelihood, and is also an issue confronting the whole world,” Xi said when he visited the fair, Xinhua News Agency reported. “Without economic growth, the employment issue can’t be solved.”

Zhou Xiao, a recruiter at a leading agricultural equipment manufacturing company, said she was surprised when she saw Xi appear from the crowd and walk toward her booth.

“He was very easy-going and just looked like a man of the people,” she said.

Zhou said Xi spent about 20 minutes strolling around the fair and randomly stopped at booths, talking and shaking hands with the people.

The recruiter said she was looking for candidates with good English, both spoken and written, as well as a proactive attitude in work, which are vital for graduates to raise themselves above other competitors.

In a separate event Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has called for reducing administrative barriers for launching businesses to create more job opportunities, Xinhuanet reported.

On a nationwide teleconference held on Monday about the functional transformation of the institutions under the State Council, or the cabinet, Li said China faces a tough employment situation due to the tempered economic growth in the past few months this year.

The country will expect a record number of college graduates this year, Li said, adding that it is an important task to help them get employed.

Nearly 7 million students will graduate from college in July and as of April 19 only 28% of graduates in Beijing had signed employment deals with employers. In Shanghai the rate was 29%, and in Guangdong province it was 47%, according to China Central Television.

Zhang Yi, an expert in labour economics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, attributed the fall of employment on the economic slowdown. China’s GDP saw a year-on-year rise of 7.7% in the first quarter of this year. The growth rate was 7.9% in the fourth quarter last year.

“In the past, nearly 90% of graduates could find a job six months after graduation but I’m afraid the figure may only be 86% or so if the economy does not rebound in the latter half of the year,” he said.

Premier Li said that the government should also make efforts to lower the threshold for people to seek employment or start businesses.

Efforts should be made to vigorously develop medium-sized, small and micro businesses by cancelling unnecessary administrative approvals, as state-owned enterprises and institutions have limited capacity in providing employment opportunities.

The registered unemployment rate in urban China stood at 4.1% at the end of March, the same as at the end of last year, according to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security. The figure does not cover unemployed fresh graduates.

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