Beijing yesterday issued stern warnings on the bleak job market outlook for this year, with an estimated 25 million urban job seekers entering the labour market and employers having trouble getting staff with the right skills.
About 6.8 million university and college graduates would enter the job market this year - more than six times as many as a decade ago, Yin Chengji, a spokesman for the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, said yesterday.
Structural unemployment - a mismatch between demand and available skills - would worsen, Yin warned.
'Difficulties for employers seeking staff and workers seeking employment happen at the same time, and there is now not only a shortage of skilled workers but also a shortage of ordinary workers,' he said. 'We believe this situation has become the norm and the problem is spreading from the coast to inland.'
Yin said Beijing was keenly aware of the bleak international economic outlook and the impact it would have on domestic employment.
With the help of domestic economic growth and government aid, the ministry will aim to boost employment to 'maintain the basic stability of the national employment situation'.
Yin said the government would put more resources into job training, give priority to creating jobs for university and college graduates and give incentives to encourage graduates and rural workers to start their own businesses. Last year, eight million jobs were created for former farmers and more than 17 million people received government-subsidised training aimed at helping them find jobs, Xinhua said.
Meanwhile, Yin said the urban unemployment rate remained at 4.1 per cent at the end of last year, unchanged from the year before, and that 12 million jobs had been created in cities last year.
Professor Lin Yanling, of the China Institute of Industrial Relations, said the mismatch between labour supply and demand was likely to persist for a long time while the economy was restructured.
'This is not a problem that can be solved in three or five years, there is a long road ahead,' Lin said.
Demographers warn that China is losing its 'population dividend', with the proportion of people of working age having shrunk last year for the first time in a decade.
Economists cite an abundance of young workers as being crucial to China's three decades of phenomenal growth that has established it as the world's second biggest economy.