Facing a difficult job market . . .
For China’s 8.47 million university graduates, the prospects of finding a job are not looking promising given that the gross domestic product shrank by 6.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2020. The situation is especially dire in Hubei Province, the epicenter of the pandemic, where 450,000 graduates will be looking for job in a provincial economy that has experienced a 39 per cent slump. Graduates are understandably worried. According to a recent survey, 31 per cent of prospective 2020 graduates said they were very anxious about their employment opportunities, and 64 per cent said that they were somewhat concerned.
Governments respond . . .
To attenuate young people’s anxiety, China’s central government announced it would open up 400,000 new teaching positions and provide private small-and medium-sized companies with hiring subsidies. It also said it was working with the five largest online recruitment platforms to expand their job postings for 2020 graduates, and making those postings free of charge. In Hubei, the provincial government unveiled a detailed plan to expand the government bureaucracy by 20 per cent, and also create 20,000 new public-sector positions, especially in community-level social services. Graduate programs in strategic disciplines, including AI, advanced materials, and preventive medicine will also be expanded.
Maintaining stability and redefining national priorities . . .
The Chinese government’s overarching goal of maintaining political stability underlies these job creation policies, as politicians realize that youth unemployment can lead to political trouble. Economic crises are often an opportunity to make needed changes, as both policymakers and the public may be willing to rethink national priorities and shift resources accordingly. China is taking advantage of this crisis to expand the understaffed public sector at the community level, invest in much needed academic professions, and support the struggling private sector. Canada also has an opportunity to redefine its priorities, so as to prepare for the future economy and enable new graduates to thrive in it.
- Hubei University of Technology: 省政府办公厅印发《应对新冠肺炎疫情影响促进普通高校毕业生就业创业工作若干措施》
- Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China: 教育部关于应对新冠肺炎疫情做好2020届全国普通高等学校毕业生就业创业工作的通知
- South China Morning Post: China starts campaign to help new graduates find jobs as economy slumps