CHINA is to drastically revamp its employment system to try to keep the unemployment rate below three per cent next year, according to Minister of Labour Li Boyong. Speaking at a national works conference on labour yesterday, Mr Li said the problem of unemployment had become severe. He indicated that the number of jobless had soared and that it had become increasingly difficult for the unemployed to get work. The re-employment rate had fallen from last year's 70 per cent to 20 per cent, Mr Li said in a Xinhua (New China News Agency) report. He attributed the problem to the growing mobility of rural surplus labour, which he estimated at over 20 million. The weakening ability of state-owned enterprises to absorb the surplus workforce meant the unemployed population had increased, Mr Li said. He said the Government would tackle problems such as the unregulated flow of labourers by strengthening the management of the labour market next year. Government departments would strictly supervise the pace and scope of flow of the rural workforce to cities and towns, he added. Xinhua said labour officials were finalising ways to solve the problem of unemployment. These included further promotion of the development of collective, individually-run and private economies as well as foreign investment. Emphasis would be put on the growth of service industries and labour-intensive industries to help enlarge the employment base. Mr Li said the establishment of a nationwide network of employment services would be speeded up next year.