China’s third most populous province, famous for its iPhone factories, transport links and agricultural businesses, has launched a campaign to help university graduates find a job amid record high youth unemployment.
The central province of Henan will target graduates from low-income families, those who are physically handicapped and those in prolonged unemployment, it said on Tuesday, with the campaign set to run until the end of August.
“Universities must focus on this year’s graduates as they have had relatively less internship experiences under the pandemic,” the province’s education department said in its 100-day action plan.
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“Schools must get to know the number of graduates facing employment problems and provide targeted guidance in order to drive their motivation in landing a job as soon as possible.”
Henan’s provincial government expects 870,000 university graduates this year from an anticipated record national total of 11.58 million.
Youth unemployment has become one of Beijing’s biggest economic headaches amid its recovery efforts, and in April, 20.4 per cent of China’s 16-24 age group were unemployed, up from 19.6 per cent in March.
The overall urban surveyed jobless rate has remained relatively steady recently and stood at 5.2 per cent in April, down from 5.3 per cent in March, with Beijing having set a target of creating 12 million jobs this year.
But as graduation season approaches, provincial governments are under more pressure to address the problems faced by students.
“Provide every unemployed graduate with at least three sessions of heart-to-heart talks, make sure they attend at least three job searching activities and recommend three employment opportunities for each,” said the document from Henan’s education department.
Universities in Henan were also given suggestions to enrol students for a “second undergraduate degree” as a way to alleviate the problem, while also having its leaders visit at least 100 employers to explore opportunities for graduates.
Schools were encouraged to identify graduates who showed a tendency to be “only looking for stable jobs”.
The phrase has been used to refer to those who seek the safety and security of a job with a state-owned enterprise having been “procrastinating in finding jobs” in the past months.
Beijing has intensified calls to encourage young people to pursue careers in China’s rural areas amid mounting job pressure and President Xi Jinping’s call to “revitalise the countryside” to narrow the urban-rural development gap.
According to a national action plan issued in February, graduates will work as grass-roots officials, entrepreneurs and volunteers to contribute to the “return of talent, resources and projects” to the countryside.
More from South China Morning Post:
- As more Chinese graduates explore rural jobs, comparisons with Mao Zedong’s campaign fail to pass muster
- China’s youth unemployment hits record high in April in ‘worrying sign’ for economic recovery
- China jobs: Beijing in search of new arsenal to create fresh vacancies for its graduates
- China’s graduates set for another difficult year as job market heats up, firms ‘never want candidates with no experience’
- China jobs: rise in youth unemployment belies surprising economic growth, as ‘weak confidence remains’