Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and professor of Tsinghua University, Liu Baicheng, proposed in his five-point proposal for building a strong manufacturing country that building a strong manufacturing country is inseparable from the cultivation of innovative talents. We not only need leading talents, but also a large number of skilled craftsmen team, one cannot be missing. By making a brief sorting of the relevant studies of scholars, the author found that there are few scholars who have studied the skill structure of employment in a country, among which there are employment involving major industries and employment in different regions as research objects, while from the viewpoint of skill structure, there are employment involving low-skilled labor, high- and medium-low-skilled employment and high- and low-skilled labor.
However, despite the richness of research in the field of domestic employment in recent years, there are still areas that need further improvement: on the one hand, there is little literature on the study of domestic employment structure that provides a systematic analysis of China’s employment structure; on the other hand, there is less in the domestic literature that analyzes the gaps in China’s employment structure from an international perspective.
Therefore, in this paper, the author will talk about how far is the road to 2025 China’s manufacturing power from the perspective of employment skill structure?
Based on the labor input data provided by the socio-economic accounts in the World Input-Output Database, this paper uses the corresponding decomposition method to split the labor input data into three major categories: high-skilled employed population, medium-skilled employed population and low-skilled employed population; and takes four BRIC countries (Brazil, China, Russia and India) and four developed countries (the United States, Germany, South Korea and Japan) as the research objects. We compare and analyze the employment skill structure among international countries from 1995 to 2009, and finally combine the findings of the study to propose inspirational suggestions for China to achieve the 2025 manufacturing power.
Overview of the employment skill structure of each country
The skilled labor structure used in this paper adopts the classification of these three types of skilled labor from WIOD’s socio-economic accounts table, i.e., the low-skilled labor force is defined as the labor force that has only received less than second-stage basic education, and the middle-skilled labor force is defined as the labor force that has received second-stage basic education but not higher education. High-skilled labor is defined as labor with higher education and beyond.
First, let us look at a few representative newly industrialized countries: In the case of Brazil, in terms of the share of various skills in total employment, the structure of employment by skill changed significantly from 1995 to 2009, with a “skewed X” structure between the middle-skilled labor force and the low-skilled labor force, with 2006 being a watershed year. The year 2006 was a watershed year, when the low-skilled labor force dominated and then declined, while the middle-skilled labor force showed the opposite trend.
Meanwhile, the analysis of the data on the share of high-skilled labor force shows a general upward trend during this period; in the case of China, the overall structure of employment by skills did not change much during the same period, with the low-skilled labor force dominating, followed by the medium-skilled labor force, and finally the high-skilled labor force.
In the case of Russia, in general, the middle-skilled labor force is absolutely dominant, and the sub-skilled employment structure is also in a “two-stage” pattern during this period: in the first stage (1995-2005), the pattern of the skilled employment structure changed a lot. In 1995, the shares of high-skilled and low-skilled labor force were about the same, and then the share of low-skilled labor force declined while the share of high-skilled labor force continued to increase. 2005-2009), the structure of the skilled labor force in Russia has basically maintained a relatively stable pattern.
In the case of India, in terms of the share of various skills in total employment, the sub-skill employment structure has remained relatively stable over the period: the low-skilled labor force dominates, followed by the medium-skilled labor force, and finally the high-skilled labor force, and its skill employment structure also follows a “two-stage” pattern: the first stage （The first stage (1995-2003) is relatively significant, and the second stage (2003-2009) maintains a relatively stable pattern of skilled labor force.
Secondly, let’s analyze some representative developed countries: in the case of the United States, its skill-based employment structure remained relatively stable during this period, i.e., the middle-skilled labor force dominated, followed by the high-skilled labor force, and finally the low-skilled labor force; from the trend diagram of its skill-based employment structure, it shows a “Z The trend diagram of its skill employment structure shows a general “Z” shape, with the share of high-skilled labor increasing while the share of medium-skilled labor and low-skilled labor continues to decline slightly.
In the case of Germany, the overall structure of employment by skills has remained relatively stable over the period, with the middle-skilled labor force dominating, followed by the high-skilled labor force, and finally the low-skilled labor force. In terms of trends, the share of high-skilled labor has been on the rise while the share of middle-skilled and low-skilled labor has been declining slightly.
In the case of Japan, its medium-skilled labor force is absolutely dominant in this period. In terms of weight pattern, its sub-skill employment structure is also in a “two-stage” pattern: in the first stage (1995-2004), the pattern of skill employment structure changed significantly. For the proportion of high-skilled labor force and low-skilled labor force, the overall proportion of high-skilled labor force and low-skilled labor force are in the shape of “horizontal V”, and the proportion of high-skilled labor force and low-skilled labor force are similar in 1995, and then the proportion of low-skilled labor force declines rapidly while the proportion of high-skilled labor force continues to rise. 2009), the structure of its skilled labor force basically maintained a relatively stable pattern.
In the case of Korea, the structure of its employment by skill has changed a lot during this period, and the structure of its high- and middle-skilled labor force is in the shape of an “X”. 2002 was a watershed year, before which the middle-skilled labor force was in the dominant position, and then continued to decline, while at the same time, the high-skilled labor force showed the opposite trend. In general, high-skilled and middle-skilled labor force has been dominating the Korean labor force, and the proportion of high-skilled labor force has been increasing year by year, and there is a “two-stage” pattern in general: in the first stage (1995-2005), the pattern of employment structure by skill has changed a lot, while in the second stage (2005-2009), the pattern of employment structure by skill has remained relatively stable. In the second stage (2005-2009), the structure of employment by skill remained relatively stable.
International Comparison of Employment Skill Structure
Compared with the newly industrialized Brazil, Russia and India, what is the level of China’s labor force’s employment skills? What is the gap between China’s labor force skills and those of developed countries (the United States, Germany, Japan and Korea)? This question will be answered in detail.
First, when comparing the newly industrialized countries, China has the largest labor supply in terms of both low-skilled, medium-skilled, and high-skilled. Excluding the size factor, the shares of high-, medium-, and low-skill employment in these four countries in 2009 were: 37.4%: 45.7%: 16.9% for Brazil, 62.1%: 31.4%: 6.5% for China, 6.2%: 79.8%: 14.1% for Russia, and 63.1%: 29.4%: 7.4% for India. Among them, the skill structure of employment in China and India is very similar, and the process of change in the skill structure of employment in China and India is extremely similar when combined with the data of 1995 and 2004, but from the analysis of the overall trend of each country mentioned above, it is clear that the skill pattern of employment in India is basically in a stable situation since 2003: 63.1% (low-skilled labor force), 29.4% (medium-skilled Unlike China, where the share of low-skilled labor has been declining along with the rising share of middle-skilled labor and high-skilled labor. Therefore, from this perspective, China’s employment skill structure is in a process of continuous optimization.
At the same time, Russia is a special case among newly industrialized countries, where the share of its medium-skilled labor force is as high as 79.8% (2009), which is not only higher than the other three BRICS countries, but also higher than the developed countries covered in this paper (the United States, Germany, Japan, and South Korea), which is not unrelated to Russia’s decades of hard work and strong government measures in education. Therefore, the difference in the skill structure level of employment in BRICS countries also reflects another perspective that China and India are relatively more dependent on low-skilled labor products under the general trend of global economy, in other words, from the perspective of global value chain, China and India are still in locking at the lower end to provide low-skilled products production.
Secondly, from the comparison of developed countries, the skilled labor force in the U.S., Germany, Japan and Korea are all dominated by middle and high level labor force. the proportion of high, middle and low skilled employment in these four countries in 2009 are: 8.5%: 56.9%: 34.5% in the U.S., 14.3%: 58.0%: 27.7% in Germany, 7.7%: 66.0%: 26.3% in Japan and Korea was 9.4%: 42.4%: 48.3%. Excluding the effect of size, Korea is unique in that it has the highest share of high-skilled labor force and the share of high-skilled labor force has exceeded the share of middle-skilled labor force within Korea, while the U.S., Germany and Japan are still dominated by middle-skilled labor force.
Thus, in terms of China’s skilled labor force ratio: 72.4%: 25.3%: 2.3% (1995), 66%: 29.5%: 4.5% (2004), 62.1%: 31.4%: 6.5% (2009), although it is in a process of optimization in terms of pattern, it is not very satisfactory in terms of the speed of optimization, and in the selected In the BRICS sample selected for this paper, the speed of optimization is only slightly higher than that of India. In terms of the gap of skilled labor force, as mentioned above, among the four BRIC countries selected in this paper, China is only higher than India, and the gap with Russia is larger; meanwhile, comparing with the data of developed countries, we find that China needs to deepen the structural optimization of labor force skills.
From the above analysis of the data of the four newly industrialized countries and the four developed countries selected in this paper, the current situation of China’s employment skill pattern still has more room for optimization, and the author’s policy recommendations are as follows.
1. Governments at all levels should promote the optimization of employment skill structure from both domestic and external demand perspectives according to the strategic plan of China 2025 manufacturing power.
2. It can be inferred from the data analysis in this paper that China is still locked at the bottom of the global value chain as reflected by the current status of China’s employment structure.
This dilemma is not conducive to the realization of China’s 2025 manufacturing power, nor is it conducive to the further optimization of the employment structure. Therefore, on the one hand, government departments should adopt various incentives to encourage enterprises to innovate in technology; on the other hand, the government should strengthen its investment in public education, implement active labor market policies, and guide enterprises to improve the skills of their employees through employee training.
3. In terms of the trade effect of international trade, we need to think about how to make use of the international trade spillover effect to improve the skill structure of our labor force.