Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Job shortages in China - beginning of a trend or a minor blip?

After investing large amounts of money in an education overseas many Chinese students expect to be able to return home to a high paid salary.

Even with 10% annual growth it appears that jobs are still hard to find. If we were to get a macro shock (such as a wall street crash) the situation could deteriorate rapidly.

What is interesting from this article is the talk of a skills mismatch between skilled jobs and unskilled workers. However, the sheer number of graduates that are looking for work mean many will be disappointed.

The question is this: Does this increase the risk from taking an MSc overseas or does it make obtaining such a qualification even more important as not only will the student get a top quality education (see sidebar links) but they will also learn to speak and understand English and have a good idea of China's role within the global community. Characteristics that the service sector and foreign multinationals in China will value highly.

From ChinaDaily (my bold emphasis)

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.

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.

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