context: Following Zhang Jinan 张纪南 MoHRSS minister’s statement on employment stabilisation, MoHRSS announced its official position on securing jobs. Economists believe that the difficulty faced by skilled university graduates in finding jobs is due to structural unemployment or skills mismatch, whereas recent layoffs of unskilled migrant workers were caused by demand-deficient cyclical unemployment as a consequence of the trade war. Prescriptions thus focus on skills-matching and labour market optimisation for the former, and comprehensive stimulus package for the latter.

State Council Information Office held the second press conference on implementing Central Economic Work Conference decisions. Qiu Xiaoping 邱小平 Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MoHRSS) vice minister highlighted priorities and policies to tackle unemployment.

In 2019, MoHRSS will work on

  • employment of recent university graduates, migrant workers and veterans
  • pension reform
  • vocational education and training (VET)
  • labour rights protection

Principles for securing jobs include

  • reducing enterprise labour costs
  • targeted assistance to three focus groups
  • (unprecedented) large-scale VET programs
  • assistance for laid-off workers

Export-oriented firms in coastal provinces cut production and laid off employees due to the trade war, leading to recent flows of migrants returning home ahead of the normal travel time around Chinese New Year. MoHRSS will address this issue through

  • a nationwide campaign together with Sate Council Poverty Alleviation Office, All-China Federation of Trade Unions, All-China Women’s Federation of Women Unions to assist migrant workers seeking jobs, starting from 12 Feb 2019
  • skills training
  • pro-entrepreneurship policies

For 8.34 million undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students expected to graduate in 2019, MoHRSS plans to

  • roll out internship programs for unemployed youth
  • provide start-up financing and entrepreneurship subsidies
  • address mismatch between job openings and job seekers
  • assist graduates from low-income families

Pension reform will focus on