China’s Job Market Faces ‘Mismatch’ in Skills

China’s manufacturing sector, which relies heavily on assembly-line workers, is finding that young people moving into the job market are unwilling to apply for factory jobs, even though they can be relatively well-paid. An increasing number of young Chinese are obtaining university degrees and are looking for office based employment that will make use of their education. China’s employment complexes give employers and prospective employees the opportunity to meet and discuss job opportunities, but factory managers have reported having difficulty in recruiting workers. This imbalance of available jobs and jobseekers has been referred to as a “mismatch” in skills.

This mismatch in skills will be a hot topic for discussion among China’s leaders at the four-day Third Plenum meeting set to start in Beijing on November 7, 2013. Other items on the agenda include considering the cutting of consumption taxes, breaking up certain state-owned monopolies, and deregulating banking and currency markets. But it is generally agreed that the main theme for the meeting will be to focus on creating a consumer-led economy and halt the rising rate of unemployment experienced by educated youth. In a recently published speech by Prime Minister Li Keqiang to trade union officials, he stated that securing sufficient jobs for citizens was the top economic priority of the Chinese government.

China’s expansion in the manufacturing sector in response to world-wide demand for consumer goods has resulted in huge factory complexes and housing for workers being built. But despite ongoing efforts to encourage young people to take jobs in the manufacturing sector, surveys reveal that the majority are unwilling to do so. In addition to avoiding jobs as factory workers, many young people are not keen to work in service industries, such as restaurants and hotels. Some analysts have noted that children born at the time of China’s “one child” policy do not see the need to save for retirement, or plan for the future in the way their parent’s did.