From K J M Varma Beijing, Mar 10: China is facing a daunting task of ensuring jobs to over 15 million students this year as the economic slowdown cast a shadow on employment opportunities.
"About 15 million young students need to find jobs in 2015, consisting of 7.49 million college graduates and a similar number of those graduating from vocational, technical schools or middle schools," Yin Weimin, the Minister of Human Resources and Social Security told reporters, outlining for the first time difficulties faced by government to ensure job creation in view of the slowdown.
"Another three million surplus labour force in the rural areas will be seeking employment in towns and cities," the Minister said on the sidelines of the annual National People's Congress (NPC) session here. China reduced the target for its GDP to about seven per cent this year after the economy grew 7.4 per cent in 2014, the lowest pace since 1990.
A recent IMF forecast said China's growth rate would further decline to 6.8 per cent this year followed by 6.3 per cent next year, which analysts say could further complicate the job market.
Job creation is a sensitive political issue in China besides being an economic problem as the Chinese planners apprehend that youth unemployment could have adverse impact on the stability of one party political system headed by the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC).
Double digit growth rates in the last three decades made employment the biggest driver of economic prosperity for million of Chinese. The steady decline of economy in the last few years made Chinese youth anxious.
The government work report submitted by Premier Li Keqiang last week to the NPC said China aims to create more than 10 million urban jobs and will ensure that the registered urban unemployment rate does not rise above 4.5 per cent this year.
"Urban employment in January and February fell from the same period last year," Yin said. This was in line with a series of disappointing data at the start of the year, including indices measuring industrial activity, consumer prices and trade.
Last year, despite the slowdown, a total of 13.22 million new urban jobs were created, beating the full-year target of 10 million, he said amid complaints that market for quality jobs is on the decline. Yin highlighted the country's fast-expanding service sector amid economic restructuring, and vigorous small and micro businesses thanks to streamlined government administration, both main sectors for job creation.
"We are still very confident in fulfilling this year's task and delivering the target of creating more than 10 million urban jobs," state-run Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.