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FEATURE STORY

World Bank and NDRC Workshop Discusses Jobs

March 21, 2013

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World Bank Development Report 2013 Director Martin Rama on how jobs drive development in China, what challenges China faces in terms of jobs and how to deal with them.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A workshop shares the findings of the World Development Report 2013 and discusses the jobs challenges faced by China.
  • Chinese participants welcome the idea that “jobs drive development” - in China people mostly talk about how economic development could create jobs.
  • The Chinese government recognized that quality of jobs is as important as quantity.

Jobs are center stage across the globe – in developed and developing countries alike, including China.

On March 19, 2013, the World Bank and the National Development & Reform Commission (NDRC), China’s key macroeconomic management agency, co-organized a workshop to share the findings of the World Development Report (WDR) 2013: Jobs and discuss the challenges China faces in the area. Over seventy NDRC staff joined the workshop.

“Jobs drive development,” Martin Rama, WDR 2013 Director told the participants. “Jobs can be transformational as they contribute to living standards, productivity and social cohesion.”

“It is not only the number of jobs that matters,” he addressed. “Some jobs do more for development than others.”

Jobs challenges vary across countries, for example, the most immediate challenge for conflict-affected countries is to support social cohesion, whereas for urbanizing countries, avoiding urban congestion and allowing the country to move up the value added ladder are top priorities, Rama said.

Therefore, one size does not fit all. He recommended three distinct layers of policies to address the challenges in terms of jobs – fundamentals, a policy framework that is conducive to growth; labor policies which provide protection for the most vulnerable workers but do not clog business dynamism; and priorities that address the constraints faced by the private sector in creating the type of jobs the country context requires.

These key messages delivered by Rama resonated very well with the Chinese participants.

Hu Deqiao, Deputy Director-General, Employment Department of NDRC said it was refreshing to know that “jobs drive development”, since in China people mostly talk about how economic development could create jobs.  “We need to further promote the positive interaction between economic growth and jobs,” he said.

He continued to introduce the overall picture of job-related issues in China. “There are three key groups we target: college graduates, migrant workers from rural areas and the urban poor.”

Hu cited a number of problems faced by migrant workers in China including lack of social protection, lack of equal access to public services, low quality jobs and wage arrears.

The Chinese government recognized that quality of jobs is as important as quantity. How to promote higher quality employment is now top on the agenda, he said. 

Open Quotes

There are three key groups we target: college graduates, migrant workers from rural areas and the urban poor. Close Quotes

Deqiao Hu
Deputy Director-General, Employment Department of NDRC

Yang Yiyong, Director-General, NDRC Research Institute, also welcomed the idea of “jobs driving development”. But he admitted that it might take time to mainstream this idea in China, since China’s growth has long been led by exports and manufacturing.

Commenting on one of the questions raised at the end of the report – “can entrepreneurship be fostered?”, he suggested that “priority should be given to the development of entrepreneurship among young people”.

“In China, very few college graduates would start their own business, whereas in Korea this is very common,” he said.

Other participants also made comments on how jobs could promote social cohesion if hiring process is open and fair; how to empower micro enterprises in China since they create most jobs; and how to redefine “good jobs” so that more people would pursue jobs that are good for development.

This workshop was part of the WDR 2013 road show in China, which also included seminars and workshops at Fudan University, Peking University and University of International Business and Economics attended by leading scholars, academics and students in Shanghai and Beijing.