Some 8.34 million university students in China are expected to graduate next year, up 1.7 percent or 140,000 from the current school year, according to the Ministry of Education. That’s a record high.
While it underscores the growing prosperity and literacy in China, it also presents some challenges to authorities. First and foremost, where will they find the jobs to accommodate them all? Not all of them will set up their own startup.
Think about it: the number of new entrants to the Chinese labor force next year will be greater than the entire population of Hong Kong. In just three years, their number will be greater than the population of Taiwan.
Ten years ago, there were 5.31 million university graduates. It is estimated that their number grew 2 to 5 percent from 2010 to 2017. In a span of just seven years, their cumulative number reached 57 million.
China’s economy is still growing at a steady pace, but not fast enough to absorb all these additions to the labor force. And considering the impact of the trade war with the United States, the country’s employment picture is not a pretty sight.
China’s Vice Minister of Education Lin Huiqing rightfully called the situation facing new grads “complicated and severe”.
On Wednesday, the State Council, the country’s cabinet, unveiled 15 measures to boost employment. They include unemployment insurance refund in cases of mass layoffs and local government support, such as loans and venues, for entrepreneurs.
The huge supply of university graduates is weighing heavily on their starting salary. According to Zhaopin.com, the average salary of university graduates in 2017 was 4,014 yuan (US$584.16), down 16 percent from the previous year.
There seems to be a mismatch between what corporations and industries need and the manpower supply from the universities.
Zhenyuan Qu, president of the China Association of Higher Education, said university graduates are concentrated on the manufacturing and service sectors. Unfortunately, the two sectors’ manpower needs do not require a university diploma.
On the other hand, there’s a huge demand for university graduates in the technology and innovation sectors.
Lin called for more efforts to help students plan their careers and special training for students who have difficulties in finding jobs.
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