China set to meet employment challenges

JIN DING / CHINA DAILY

College graduates in China will face some unprecedented challenges this year finding a job due to the imbalance between job opportunities and the number of candidates.

The number of youths graduating from college this year is expected to be about 10.76 million, 1.67 million more than last year. Add to that the high numbers of overseas students expected to return home this year to the COVID-19 pandemic and those who graduated last year or before but could not find a job and you would realize huge pressure on the labor market.

Besides, the Chinese economy is facing three-fold pressure of shrinking demand, a slump in supply, and weakening market expectations against the pandemic and efforts to revive the economy.

Given these facts, the government needs to implement more effective fiscal and monetary policies, and take measures to create more employment opportunities. Also, efforts should be made to prioritize total employment and address the structural contradictions of the job market.

State Information Center data show that in 2021, the number of students who returned from abroad for the first time exceeded 1 million, about 84.74 percent of the total, and fewer students were chosen to study abroad because of the pandemic.

For example, 8.17 percent of students who graduated from Peking University and 6.9 percent from Tsinghua University chose to continue their higher studies overseas in 2021, compared with 13.34 percent and 9.6 percent respectively in 2020.

In addition, market entities’ recovery has been slow, and there is a gap between supply and demand in different sectors. The industrial sector has recovered relatively well from the impacts of the novel coronavirus pandemic, but the service sector, small and medium-sized enterprises, and private businesses face greater challenges.

Amid all this, rising raw material prices and the difficulty in raising funds have added to the pressure on the real economy and innovation-oriented businesses. In short, the demand for new employees is lower in China because of the changing international environment and the impacts of the pandemic.

Fortunately, although graduates face cyclical, frictional and structural unemployment risks, they have never experienced widespread unemployment thanks to the Chinese economy’s stable development and active labor market that can address short-term imbalance between demand and supply.

For example, at the height of the pandemic in July 2020, the unemployment rate among the 20-24 age group, mostly college graduates, was 3.3 percentage points higher than in the same period in 2019, but the figure dropped to 7.2 percentage points in December 2020. General Chat Chat Lounge

This indicates that short-term and unexpected disruptions and seasonal factors did not affect the trend of graduate recruitment. Human capital is the foundation that helps a society adapt to economic changes and overcome external shocks, which in turn enables fresh graduates to successfully face challenges and risks.

But youth employment in China is complicated because of the impacts of cyclical, frictional and structural unemployment. With regard to frictional unemployment, most graduates enter the job market at the same time every year, making it hard for them to find a suitable job. As for structural unemployment, university education, to a large extent, cannot always meet the demand for a rapidly growing economy due to the lack of adequate education reform. Worse, the demand for labor has been unstable because of the pandemic.

Furthermore, similar career choices of graduates aggravate the structural contradiction. For example, according to a recent Peking University report, about 50 percent of its graduates in 2021 found jobs in government departments and state-owned enterprises. And a 2020 report on Chinese students studying abroad showed that 21 percent of the returnees joined government departments and 25 percent joined SOEs.

No wonder there is a gap between supply and demand in SOEs and private businesses – the latter faces a large shortage of skilled talents, while the number of people who are registered to sit at the 2022 National Civil Service Exam reaches a high of more than 2 million General Chat Chat Lounge The popularity of the civil service exam increases as more college graduates look for a stable job, which reflects their pessimism on future prospects in other sectors.

The graduates’ pursuit of a small number of carers hampers the efficient allocation of human resources and aggravates the structural contradiction, and will have a negative impact on their social network and career development.

As such, the government should implement expansionary fiscal and monetary policies, in order to ensure the economy recovers well and enough jobs are created. It should also build talent pools to boost youth employment and help graduates overcome difficulties, and increase public investment, further develop infrastructure, and reduce taxes to bolster the economy and create more jobs.

In addition to encouraging college graduates to work at grassroots level in remote areas, join the armed forces or start their own business, the government should introduce favorable policies, as well as optimize the recruitment service and training system, and monitor graduates’ employment status and If needed, take remedial measures to help them adjust to a professional work environment.

The government also needs to integrate resources of communities, job training centers, vocational schools and universities into unemployed youths undergoing skills training, and reduce taxes and fees to encourage employers to train young talents.

And while the government and the market should cooperate to balance the relationship between supervision and recruitment in sectors that have graduated for a high number of posts, the government should work to establish an inclusive social security system, pilot a universal basic income plan. Adult citizens have a set amount of money regularly – so as to protect their rights in the labor market.

The author is an Associate Professor of the Institute of Population and Labor Economics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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