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.