Historic cancellation signifies State's retreat from private lives & market
The People's Republic of China finally gets rid of the outdated and burdensome paper between college graduates and their jobs.
Few things signify the State’s penetrating role between Chinese college graduates and jobs than 就业报到证 Employment and Registration Certificate, finally relegated to the dustbin of history on Friday, May 12, 2023.
In a government notice, the Central Organization Department of the Communist Party of China, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Public Security, and the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council said on Friday that China has formally terminated the Employment and Registration Certificate
Starting from 2023, the issuance of the "National Regular Higher Education College Graduates Employment and Registration Certificate" and the "National Postgraduates Employment and Registration Certificate" (collectively referred to as the Employment Registration Certificate) will no longer be provided. The procedures for reissuing or transferring the Employment Registration Certificate will be canceled. The Employment Registration Certificate will no longer be considered a mandatory document for handling procedures such as recruitment, employment, hukou/household registration, and dang’an/archived dossier transfer for college graduates.
For decades, the Employment and Registration Certificate is issued by the Chinese State to every graduate of colleges, universities, and graduate schools who must take it to their (even private) employer, signifying the employment between a graduate and their employer must be endorsed by the State.
(an Employment and Registration certificate from Jiangxi in 1979.)
It was a relic from the era of the command economy when education and employment were strictly State-run, so graduating from a college and then finding a job was transitioning from one State organ to another, therefore requiring the approval of the State.
Until the late 1990s, Chinese college graduates, the most privileged group of young people, were assigned to State-affiliated jobs by the State upon graduation. They were - and remain - seen in China as 国家培养的 nurtured by the State, so they should, be dispatched by the State to work in State jobs.
China’s growing private economy, however, gradually hollows out the fundamentals behind an Employment and Registration Certificate. The State still runs higher education, but China’s private sector now provides 80% of urban employment and creates 90% of new jobs. As long as college graduates contribute to their businesses, whether they carry the piece of paper is irrelevant to private employers.
But the Employment and Registration Certificate remains more than a nuisance, as hukou/household registration and dang’an/archived dossier were also conditioned upon the Certificate. Social benefits for Chinese residents are based on hukou/household registration and the State retains dang’an/archived dossier on Chinese citizens, so the Certificate remained instrumental. Consequently, the absence of the certificate posed significant challenges for college graduates, compelling them to seek its re-issuance from their alma mater.
China faces mounting challenges in youth unemployment. One out of five people between 16 and 24 doesn’t have a job in March, the National Bureau of Statistics of China said. In the ongoing State action to make it easier for college graduates to find jobs and start businesses, China said in May 2022 that the Certificate would be abolished starting in 2023, culminating in today’s government notice.
国务院办公厅关于进一步做好 高校毕业生等青年就业创业工作的通知 2022年5月5日
Notice from the General Office of the State Council on Further Improving the Employment and Entrepreneurship of College Graduates and Other Young People (May 5, 2022)
The employment of high school graduates and other young people is closely related to people's livelihood, economic development, and the future of the country. In order to implement the decisions and arrangements of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, and to do well in the current and future period of employment and entrepreneurship for college graduates and other young people, we need to take effective measures.
Simplify and optimize job application and employment procedures.
(10) Prudently and orderly promote the cancellation of employment registration certificates. Starting from 2023, the issuance of the "National Employment Registration Certificate for Ordinary Graduates of Higher Education Institutions" and the "National Employment Registration Certificate for Graduate Students" (hereinafter referred to as employment registration certificates) will no longer be issued. The procedures for reissuing and reassigning employment registration certificates will be canceled, and the employment registration certificate will no longer be required as a necessary document for handling procedures such as recruitment, employment, household registration, and file transfer for college graduates. (The responsibilities will be divided among the Central Organization Department, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, etc.)
The cancellation of the certificate is motivated by the objective to "simplify and optimize job application and employment procedures." Nonetheless, this development marks a symbolic moment for China, reflecting the State's diminishing involvement in private affairs and the market.
While numerous changes are talked up as reforms, this little-propagated historic step, albeit long overdue, signifies a positive move toward progress.
(A standard Employment and Registration Certificate issued by Shandong Province to graduates from Shandong-administered colleges in 2019)
(an Employment and Registration certificate from Wuhan in 1997.)