China and the European Commission should further learn from each other in boosting employment and social security under the joint Social Protection Reform Project, a senior official with the nation’s top economic regulator said on Sept 28.
Wang Xiaotao, vice-minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, said that although China is on track to make the labor market more resilient, the nation faces new challenges amid its economic transformation.
The registered urban unemployment rate in China has been at 4.05 percent in recent years, Wang told a two-day, high-level forum on social protection reform that began in Beijing on Sept 27.
The Social Protection Reform Project, launched last year, aims to promote social equity and inclusiveness of economic development in China, as well as cooperation and dialogue between China and the EU in the same field.
“China lacks such a buffer zone as that in the EU, where countries have programs to help people to gain the right skills for future jobs,” said Pu Yufei, director of the NDRC’s Department of Employment and Income Distribution.
Pu was referring to challenges such as relocating laid-off workers in sectors with overcapacity.
“China does face a certain level of pressure in relocating laid-off workers,” said Pu. “We need to enhance capacity and improve government support to help workers find new jobs.”
Pu said that China hopes to learn from past experiences of the European Commission in this field.
The European Commission has a well-established system to enhance reforms to improve flexibility and security in the labor market, said Lars Gronvald, head of the Development and Cooperation Section of the EU Delegation to China.
In the meantime, the EU may have to look at how China is boosting employment at a time when the EU’s member states, while adopting consumption-driven models, are facing rising pressures to generate new jobs amid mild economic recovery and a refugee crisis, Gronvald said.
Michel Servoz, director of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, said the effect of Brexit, or Britain’s planned exit from the EU－which is expected to lower the EU’s GDP by 0.8 percent next year－is having a negative effect on the labor market.
“Lack of investment is really a problem in the EU,” said Servoz. “We may have to turn to China’s experience and see how China is able to improve employment amid economic transformation.”
Gronvald said that despite facing different challenges, both countries are able to learn from each other under the four-year Social Protection Reform Project, which provides both sides with opportunities for mutual exchanges.