So many “national” professional qualifications are actually unnecessary

More than one-third of professional qualifications will be canceled, and 90% of local professional qualifications should be canceled – Deputy Minister of Human Resources and Social Security Tang Tao’s online interview on the Chinese government website on the 10th gave a sense of urgency to the simplification of professional qualifications.

In the past year and a half, the State Council has canceled three batches of 149 professional qualification certifications. If these canceled certificates were not exposed one after another, ordinary people would probably not realize that professional qualification certification has become complicated to the point of triviality – “Decoration Material Manager” and “Decoration Material Manager” need to be certified separately, “National (Ancient) Building Repairer” and “National (Ancient) Building Maintenance Worker” are not the same thing, and even “Wooden Floor Shopping Guide” must hold a certificate to work.

Most of the above names are “national,” that is, professional qualifications set by various departments of the State Council. In local qualification certification, all kinds of strange qualification certificates are even more spectacular. At this time last year, Shaanxi’s “noodle certificate” became the headline of various media comment sections, and the joke of “taking a noodle certificate and then going to hang up to make money” was popular in public opinion. In another news story this year, An Yang college student Xiao Sun received 65 certificates including “Broadcasting and Television Editor Journalist Qualification Certificate” and “Advanced Secretary and Office Automation Certificate,” but still could not find a job. In the photo, the unemployed young man holds a stack of certificates half a person high and stares at the camera as if conducting a silent inquiry.

Looking at two news stories together is like connecting the “beginning” and “ending” of the certificate journey. The “noodle certificate” has actually existed for many years and has not been noticed by the public before. Rather than saying that it has a sense of existence because of media reports, it is better to say that it was highlighted by the background of government functional reform. The huge inertia of an omnipotent government, the difficulty in implementing streamlining administration and delegating power, the entanglement between power expansion and power expansion in functional departments, and the ability to adjust microeconomics with power can all be seen from this small qualification certificate. And the news that “65 certificates still can’t find a job” confirms from a most realistic perspective the disconnection between the planned thinking-based occupational evaluation system and market evaluation, as well as its arrogance, stubbornness and self-talk in front of the market.

Forcing some unnecessary qualification certifications into government-led will almost certainly result in a two-layered result of official evaluation and market evaluation: companies with strength lack “qualifications” and need to borrow “certificates” from practitioners; practitioners with certificates do not necessarily participate in front-line practice but only need to hang their “certificates” on aforementioned companies to make money. This situation is particularly common in HVAC, water and electricity, construction and landscape design industries and has become a “secret” that can be talked about on the desktop.

As a result, as seen by the public, artificially designed qualification certificates block dams in the market, cutting off normal economic exchanges, breeding gray chains such as training, certification examination and certification issuance, forming various peripheral power and interest groups, and also forcing out underground markets for hanging various qualification certificates. In addition to people’s common criticism of rent-seeking problems, it also reduces economic efficiency, raises entrepreneurship and innovation costs, and implicitly strengthens identity thresholds that should gradually fade away with reform.

Therefore, since the State Council began cleaning up professional qualification certifications a year and a half ago, the progress of related reforms has been continuously tracked by the media. It is not only a serious topic for public discussion but also a focus of public opinion. The reason for this, in addition to its relatively large relevance to the interests of ordinary people, is also because of its typical and symbolic significance in reform: the market economy does not mean canceling necessary access thresholds and basic regulations, but should first examine whether these regulations are using planned thinking to simulate the survival of the fittest in the market and overstep their bounds in slowly forming rules in market wrestling. The significance of this examination will gradually become apparent as professional qualification certificates are canceled in batches.

Liu Bai, China Youth Daily (June 12, 2015, Page 02)

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