Wang Xiaoping: Advancing Chinese Modernization Through High-Quality and Full Employment

2023-09-15 14:36:09 | Author:Wang Xiaoping | Source:en.qstheory.cn2023-09-13

Employment is the most basic component contributing to people’s wellbeing. The report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), delivered in October 2022, set forth the objective of “promoting high-quality and full employment.” This represents a major strategic step taken by the CPC Central Committee based on a solid understanding of the current features of China’s development. During the inaugural meeting of the 20th Central Commission for Financial and Economic Affairs (CCFEA) held in May 2023, President Xi Jinping gave a thorough analysis of China’s new population dynamics, with a focus on promoting high-quality population development as a support for Chinese modernization. He put forward the foundational thinking and major principles for promoting high-quality population development and specified the key tasks involved.

I. Recognizing the significance of high-quality and full employment to Chinese modernization

Population development is pivotal to national rejuvenation. Promoting high-quality and full employment is crucial to ensuring the quality of modernization for a vast population and realizing common prosperity for all. It holds particular importance in the following respects.


Employees work on a production line at a ceramic products company in Hejiang, Sichuan Province, February 10, 2023. China has continued to address employment issues through development and steadily strengthened its capacity for driving employment by building a modern industrial system. PEOPLE’S DAILY / PHOTO BY LI GUIPING

It is integral to high-quality economic development

Achieving high-quality development is the primary task in building a modern socialist country. It is the CPC’s first priority in governing and rejuvenating the country and serves as the foundation and key for solving all of China’s problems. Employment is the bedrock of development and the wellspring of wealth; it is the link that connects demand and supply and joins production, exchange, distribution, and consumption. As a basic macro- and micro-economic indicator, it is an important benchmark for assessing high-quality economic development. High-quality and full employment will help us to steadily enhance China’s human resource structures, better support development of the real economy, and raise total factor productivity. In this light, it is important to apply the new development philosophy to create a latest pattern of development and make economic development even more employment-oriented. In our pursuit of full and high-quality employment, we must nurture the potential and momentum for development and give shape to a virtuous cycle of economic development and job creation.

It is necessary for meeting the demands of high-quality population development

China has now entered a new normal in population development. Despite the trend of decrease in China’s total population and labor force, both remain vast in scale. With clear signs of aging in the workforce, a structural mismatch has arisen between labor supply and demand. The mobility of the population and labor force is also increasing steadily. It is thus imperative that we take faster steps to cultivate modern human resources that are of high quality, abundant, well-structured, and appropriately distributed, thereby enabling high-quality population development to support Chinese modernization. In this regard, we must take high-quality and full employment as an important foundation for high-quality population development and the main priority in developing and utilizing human resources. We must actively adapt to the evolving scale and structure of the labor force and stabilize the labor participation rate, improve the labor supply, and boost worker competency.

It is fundamental to improving people’s wellbeing and quality of life

Employment serves as the foundation of people’s wellbeing and the basis upon which workers earn a living and realize development. It is also a prerequisite for ensuring that people can share in the gains of economic development. It thus concerns the vital interests of hundreds of millions of workers and their families. Without employment and income, workers cannot satisfy their basic living needs, much less build a happy life for their families. By fostering high-quality and full employment, we are adapting to people’s evolving employment demands, responding to their need for not only employment but fulfilling employment, which reflects the features and laws that define development in the new era. As a result, we must continue to regard the people’s aspirations for a better life as our unwavering goal. We need to create more employment opportunities and more desirable jobs, improve income levels and rights protection for workers, and ensure that all workers enjoy decent working conditions.

It is the basic means of achieving prosperity through hard work

A fulfilling life is earned through hard work. Only when we all participate and work hard can we truly achieve common prosperity for all. High-quality and full employment is a basic condition upon which workers participate in social production and share in the achievements of economic and social development. All of us must join in collaboration in order to create shared gains, as collaboration itself is a shared process. It is only by means of employment or entrepreneurship that workers can engage in the hard work and honest labor needed to fulfill their potential and find their place in society. To this end, we must help workers improve their ability to secure employment and start businesses, enhance their skills for achieving prosperity, and maintain clear channels of upward mobility, giving more people an opportunity to create wealth. Improving people’s lives should be the ultimate aim of the work of our Party and government, as well as the objective of people’s individual efforts, so that people can find stable jobs and have fulfilling careers.

II. Building a working system for promoting high-quality and full employment

Over the years, China has carried out numerous innovative explorations in employment-related work. This includes promoting employment for a growing urban labor force, ensuring re-employment for laid-off workers, promoting coordination on employment between urban and rural areas, and prioritizing the employment of college graduates and other young people. Particularly noteworthy has been the way China navigated the effects of serious natural disasters, China-US trade frictions, and the Covid-19 pandemic, taking steps to ease burdens on businesses, stabilize employment, and expand employment opportunities. Through these efforts, China has given shape to a proactive employment policy system and working framework with distinctive features. By achieving relatively full employment as a country of more than 1.4 billion people, it has proactively ensured and improved the wellbeing of its people and promoted economic and social development.

Embarking on a new journey in the new era that began in 2012, China is confronted with several issues. It needs to consolidate the foundation of stable employment to facilitate high-quality development and advance Chinese modernization and promote alignment between employment and industry in step with market trends. It needs to ensure information symmetry between the supply and demand sides of the labor market and coordinate the development of worker skills with that of the real economy. It needs to establish a sound mechanism for monitoring and early warning of unemployment risks and for coordinating the labor force and adapting its supply to demand amid evolving industry structures to better support related macro decision-making. All of this necessitates urgent steps to increase, expand, and upgrade the platforms, methods, and measures for promoting employment, and to redesign employment concepts and systems. The focus of our efforts should be on the goals of creating abundant employment opportunities, rational employment structures, and a fair employment environment, continuously improving workers’ ability to secure employment, and steadily advancing employment safeguards. We must reinforce the employment-first approach, address the key task of matching supply and demand, consolidate community-level services to lay a solid foundation, leverage data as key support, and bolster risk prevention and control. On this basis, we can accelerate the development of a working system for promoting high-quality and full employment based on interdepartmental coordination, multilevel cooperation, targeted services, and effective management.

Reinforcing the employment-first approach

We need to make high-quality and full employment a priority objective of economic and social development and incorporate employment-related work into the evaluation system for high-quality development. To achieve full implementation of the employment-first policy, we must ensure coordination between employment policies and policies in the fiscal, monetary, investment, consumption, and educational spheres. We need to ensure the fulfillment of all responsibilities, improve the system for assessing efforts to promote high-quality and full employment, and establish a well-integrated employment promotion mechanism featuring the combined leadership of Party committees and governments, collaboration among departments, vertical coordination, as well as extensive social participation.

Matching supply and demand

Paying attention to both sides of the labor market, we should build efficiently aligned mechanisms to coordinate employment with industry, adapt worker training to employment demand, and see that public employment services complement market-oriented human resource services. We should coordinate the development of human resources and the modern industrial system, give support to industries and enterprises with strong employment absorption capacity, and leverage new areas of employment growth in the course of promoting regional coordinated development and advancing rural revitalization. These efforts will see us creating an employment-friendly economic development environment.

Consolidating primary-level services

To strengthen community-level management, we should develop specialized service teams at the community level. We should improve our capacity to provide convenient services and meet people’s diverse employment needs through close-to-home service mechanisms. We should further diversify and specialize community-level employment service systems and ensure that employment services are available within a 15-minute radius of people’s homes, so that public services are evenly distributed and easily accessible. Giving play to community-level Party organizations in urban and rural areas, we should include employment management services within the scope of CPC-led community-level governance and provide additional manpower and resources to communities facing formidable employment tasks and great public demand.

Drawing on the support of data

To accelerate the digitalization of employment-related work, we should develop an integrated digital information platform that covers all stages from seeking work to engaging in employment or starting a business and features both vertical and horizontal coordination. We should restructure the relationships and procedures in human resources and social security work, creating an integrated internal information system that is employment-focused and facilitates coordination among social insurance, labor, employment, and personnel management while enhancing data sharing with external departments, such as those for education, public security, civil affairs, industry and information technology, commerce, and market supervision. Using interconnected services, data sharing, and real-name management, we should implement policies in a targeted way, ensure well-conceived decision-making, proactively prevent and control risks, and establish a new working paradigm based on data-driven communication, analysis, decision-making, and implementation.

Strengthening risk prevention and control

We must remain mindful of worst-case scenarios and build monitoring, early warning, and response mechanisms for preventing and resolving risks with regard to large-scale unemployment and re-emergence of poverty among workers. We should improve the statistical monitoring and survey system for employment and unemployment, improve risk response and mitigation plans, and improve situation monitoring, trend analysis, risk warning, and instant response functions of our risk control system. This will ensure we resolutely forestall and resolve major risks like large-scale unemployment and maintain overall employment stability.

III. The tasks for promoting high-quality and full employment

For the present and foreseeable future, the international landscape will continue to be characterized by complexity and volatility. At home, the economic recovery is not yet on a firm footing, while unstable factors and uncertainties in economic and social development are on the rise. Promoting high-quality and full employment poses a formidable task in light of the cumulative effects of population aging, the development of intelligent industry, diversification of employment, and people’s diversified demands. Adhering to the overarching principle of pursuing increase in employment in the midst of maintaining job market stability, we will regard ensuring stable employment as a major political responsibility, take the employment-first strategy as the guide for our work, and pursue high-quality and full employment as our objective. We will strengthen policy support and all our efforts to ensure the stability of existing employment, create new employment opportunities, and raise the overall quality of employment. We must make every effort to ensure overall employment stability so as to provide a strong foundation for economic and social stability.

Expanding employment capacity through economic development

We must continue to resolve employment issues through development and steadily strengthen the ability of our modern industrial system to drive employment as we build it out. We will encourage high-quality employment in the manufacturing industry with a view to boosting both profitability and income levels. We will expand employment opportunities in the services sector by supporting innovative development of producer services and services outsourcing and moving faster to boost the quality and diversity of consumer service industries. To accelerate the digital economy, we will promote its full integration with the real economy to create fresh momentum for employment growth. We will carry out all measures for refining and adjusting stability-focused employment policies, taking detailed and concrete policy steps and increasing policy publicity. We will see that policies to benefit enterprises and stabilize payrolls are implemented in a targeted way and have a direct effect so as to fully tap the potential benefits of these policies. We will improve the employment impact assessment mechanism and make greater efforts to promote employment through major policy planning, major engineering projects, and the configuration of major industries.


An intangible cultural heritage ambassador (first left) teaches students embroidery skills for Yugur ethnic costumes in Sunan Yugur Autonomous County, Gansu Province, March 21, 2023. In recent years, the county has launched classroom programs for intangible heritage to train highly-skilled personnel and promote youth employment and entrepreneurship. PEOPLE’S DAILY / PHOTO BY WANG JIANG

Improving mechanisms to incentivize business startups

We will create a favorable market and policy environment for business startups and innovation, stimulating market vitality and creativity, so as to harness the employment multiplier effect of entrepreneurship. We will strengthen policy support measures such as loan interest subsidies, tax incentives, entrepreneurship subsidies, and workspace support, and support financial institutions in offering services and loans that will help businesses maintain employment and expand payrolls. We will upgrade services for startup businesses, conduct large-scale startup education and training programs, establish startup incubation bases and other similar platforms, and organize entrepreneurship competitions, exhibitions, exchanges, and other promotional activities. We will also work to establish a number of startup-oriented cities. We will support the healthy development of flexible employment, ensure well-regulated development of the gig economy, and ensure the protection of rights and interests for workers in flexible and new employment forms.

Improving support systems to ensure stability for key groups

We will rely on both regulation by market forces and government promotion to support employment and entrepreneurship for key groups through various channels. Even greater emphasis will be placed on promoting employment for young people, especially university graduates. Based on China’s major strategic plans, the development of the modern industrial system, and innovative development of small and medium-sized enterprises, we will expand job opportunities for university graduates through market-based channels and alternative employment arrangements. We will carry out employment and entrepreneurship promotion plans for university graduates and other young people and make coordinated moves to promote employment, entrepreneurship, community-level work experience, and internships and training. This will ensure employment levels remain largely stable among university graduates. We will take concrete steps concerning the employment of migrant workers, especially those who have been lifted out of poverty. We will continue to promote employment opportunities for migrant workers both in and outside of their local areas by promoting entrepreneurship for home returning migrant workers, developing labor service brands, fostering vocational skills, and coordinating labor services. Through targeted employment measures, we will prevent people from falling back into poverty and ensure the levels of available work and stable income. We will strengthen support for people facing difficulties, establishing a mechanism for timely identification, priority services, categorized assistance, and dynamic management for people in difficulty, including older workers, people with disabilities, and those experiencing long-term unemployment. We will work to ensure employment for at least one person in every zero-employment household.

Building employment capacity through education and training

We will further supply-side structural reform in the sphere of human resources and encourage greater investment in human capital throughout society to improve the competency of workers and develop a knowledgeable, skillful, and innovative workforce. To meet the demands of high-quality development and workers’ employment needs, we will establish a mechanism for linking employment with student recruitment, talent development, funding allocation, the setup of educational institutions, and adjustments to academic disciplines. We will accelerate the development of modern vocational education and encourage and support the development of distinctive technical education. We will proactively give play to the advantages of collaboration between vocational education, industry, and business and promote cooperation between educational institutions and enterprises and integration between work and education, so as to upgrade technical competence and practical training. We will fully implement the lifelong vocational skills training system, ensuring that skills development remains a feature in all phases of training and employment. We will carry out the Skills China Initiative, strengthen training and evaluation for new-generation skills, such as digital skills, implement projects for developing foundational manufacturing skills, and carry out large-scale specialized training programs for enterprise employees and other key groups. We will deepen reform of the skills training system and mechanism, fully implement the eight-level vocational skills grading scheme for skilled workers, and promote certification of vocational skills through social channels. We will improve the mechanisms for new occupational information release and professional standards development, enhance the vocational skills competition system, improve benefit packages for skilled workers, and strongly promote the example of model workers, the ethos of work, and quality workmanship.

Aligning the service system with employment needs

We will work to build comprehensive, convenient, and efficient public employment service systems that cover all citizens, all aspects of employment, and entire regions so as to boost the efficiency with which supply is matched with demand in the labor market. We will improve public employment service institutions in urban and rural areas, refine community-level service platforms in subdistricts and residential communities, build employment service stations close to people’s homes, and ensure appropriate staffing of public service institutions. We will develop specialized service teams and establish a unified national public service platform for employment and entrepreneurship to narrow the gap in the levels and quality of public employment services among regions. Demo projects for improving public employment service capacity will be carried out, and demo cities for public employment and entrepreneurship services will be introduced. We will also designate a batch of gig-economy service stations, public service platforms, and public service counters as exemplary models. We will continue to carry out activities under the “10+N” public employment service framework, including the Spring Breeze Action Program. Efforts will be made to build diversified supply patterns, develop a high-standard human resources market, and support high-quality development of human resource services. We will continue to hold the Human Resources Service Industry Development Conference and move faster to cultivate leading human resource enterprises and talent, with a view to providing more specialized services.

Implementing labor laws and bolstering rights protection

We will work to both protect workers’ rights and interests and promote enterprise development. We will refine the wage income distribution system to ensure harmonious labor relations. We will also reinforce our capacity to manage labor relations, bolstering protection of workers’ rights and interests on the basis of enterprise development and launching extensive activities to foster sound labor relations. The mechanisms for determining wages, ensuring appropriate pay increases, and guaranteeing payment of wages and salaries will be improved. We will refine the minimum wage system, as well as the enterprise salary survey and information release system, and encourage enterprises to channel a greater portion of wages toward key posts and front-line positions. Our dedicated initiatives to ensure order in the human resources market will be continued. We will strengthen oversight and enforcement of labor protection laws and crack down on illegal employment services, recruitment fraud, and other similar illegal and irregular activities, so as to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of workers.

Ensuring smooth channels of mobility and fostering a fair environment

We will eliminate institutional barriers to labor mobility, promote equal employment, and work to give shape to social mobility mechanisms that are reasonable, fair, smooth, and well-ordered. Reform of the household registration system will be carried to a deeper level, ensuring that rural migrant workers who have stable employment and earn a stable living can move their families to the towns or cities where they work. We will move toward applying the same standards and systems for basic public services in both urban and rural areas and see that workers enjoy equal access to public services for education, housing, healthcare, culture, and employment in areas where they work. We will look into formulating comprehensive regulations and policy measures to promote equal employment and strive to eliminate unreasonable employment restrictions based on gender, household registration, and identity, so as to enhance the inclusiveness of the labor market.

Wang Xiaoping is Minister and Secretary of the CPC Leadership Group, Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.

(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No. 11, 2023)

Source: English Edition of Qiushi Journal, No.4,2023