By Miao Miao and Ding Yimin
BEIJING, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Finding jobs for college graduates is a
growing problem in China. It became an even harder task for the 6.1 million June
graduates after the country began to feel the effects of the global financial
crisis in late 2008.
Compounding the problem is around 1.5 million graduates who failed to find
jobs last year, a half million increase from 2007, according to data from the
Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MHRSS).
So why can't they find jobs and how can China solves this problem? Three
experts believe they have the answers.
ENROLLMENT EXPANSION IN 1999
In the mid 1980s, China's college enrollment rate stood at about three
percent, lower than many developing countries. In the early 1990s, the number
rose to five percent.
Around 1999, the country's education department sensed the need to expand
the college enrollment rate, said Lu Hanlong, director of Society and
Development Studies of Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.
"Part of the reason for this was a baby boom in the early 1980s. That's
when China's Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) ended and many young people went
back to cities, got married and had children," Lu said.
"About 19 years later, around 1999, it was time for the new generation to
go to college. As a result, the grand expansion policy began," Lu added.
The central government deployed many measures to expand college enrollment.
It built more schools, hired more professors and offered more scholarships to
As a result, in 1999, universities enrolled 1.59 million students, up 41.2
percent from the previous year. Since then, the numbers just kept climbing.
In 2002, the college enrollment rate reached 15 percent. It rose to 19
percent in 2005. With 23 million students going to college, China had the
highest enrollment rate in the world at the time.
Lu said "the expansion policy was helpful for improving the nation's
However, so many students seeking higher education all at once had negative
effects as well.
"The grand college enrollment plan is one of the main reasons for the
current unemployment issue," said Zhou Haiwang, deputy director with Population
and Development Studies of Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.
"Although the number of jobs increased in recent years as China's economy
boomed, too many graduates coming out at one time created a great pressure for
the job market," Zhou said.
"The policy had led to a degradation of teaching quality and conditions in
universities as well", said Zhou.
OUT OF TOUCH: SUPPLY AND DEMAND
Supply not only outweighed demand, many employers questioned the type of
education this boom of college graduates received.
"At present many companies do not trust new graduates, who may have learned
'mountains of' theories but also lack practical abilities," said Wang Yi,
associate researcher of Shanghai Public Administration and Human Resources
"Thus many employers would prefer graduates from some higher vocational
technical schools rather than college students," Wang said.
"That's the 'supply and demand out of touch' problem, in China's employment
market," Wang said.
Wang suggested colleges should change their education models and set
disciplines on a more useful and practical course plan.
On the other hand, students should understand the country's unemployment
issues on the first day they enter college.
"Presently most of them enjoy their lives in college as having happy hour
all the time. Only when they become a junior or senior student will they begin
to think about their future vocational orientation, when it might be a little
bit late for the issue."
WORK EXPERIENCE AND TRAINING BASE PLAN
As early as 2006, many local governments began trying to solve the
unemployment problem, by enacting a plan which gave graduates work experience
The local government does the contact work and convinces enterprises to
provide internship positions for graduates for about half a year. During that
time, the government gives interns a small living allowance every month. After
the internship ends, the enterprise may offer jobs to outstanding interns.
For example, in 2006 in Fujian province, 58 enterprises offered internships
to more than 6,000 graduates. Around 50 percent of them ended up getting hired.
This year another 62 companies will join the program, according to a report from
Guang Ming Daily on Wednesday.
Besides enterprises, Wang suggested colleges should also use more graduates
through an internship program. With large amounts of research funds, he said
students should be paid while learning practical skills.
"Graduates can stay at the college, do research as assistants and get paid
by research funds. It provides convenience for both sides." It would also keep
graduates out of an already flooded job market.
SOCIAL JOINT WORK
To solve the unemployment problem, the whole society needs to work
together, said Wang Yi.
First, local employment service agencies should have more cooperation
between each other, such as networking agencies in Shanghai, Beijing and
Tianjin. They should collect more information about job openings for graduates
in these cities, Wang said.
Currently, only Guangxi, Jiangxi and Guangdong have networked their human
Second, community organizations should provide more jobs for young people.
Now, those positions are mostly filled by the elderly.
"Having grassroots work experiences can be a great help for young people in
orienting their future profession choices," Wang said.
Finally, at this crucial time, "the major enterprises should shoulder more
social responsibilities," Wang said. "It also helps in building a good social
reputation for them."