Approximately 6.99 million students will graduate this year from Chinese colleges and universities, a new all-time high. This reflects China’s attempt to upgrade its workforce by promoting higher education.
But the labor market is sending some rather disappointing messages. Against the backdrop of the troubled world economy and faltering domestic demand, companies in China are increasingly losing their appetite for new hires.
The Chinese media predicts that 2013 will be the most difficult job-hunting year in history for university graduates. So who is to blame for this? And what can be done to fix it?
The core of the job shortage is not so much about low-skilled persons seeking jobs but rather the difficulties faced by highly-educated persons in finding employment. Universities are a key supplier of human resources for the labor market, but their capacity to enhance the employability of graduates is constrained in at least three ways.
The first relates to the definition of the aims of higher education. In the wake of China’s opening-up, market-based values have gained momentum in all aspects of Chinese society. People have increasingly identified with previously unheard of concepts such as competition and profitability. Chinese companies have been constantly changing their requirements for competencies to survive and grow in the market. Within this context, there is an obvious gap between what graduates are taught at university and the short-term usable skills favored by the labor market.
The second constraint points to the role of career services within universities. In recognition of the congestion of the graduate labor market, universities have made efforts to develop their career services to provide support to students. The range of support provided mainly includes collecting and distributing information related to job vacancies, providing career guidance and consultation, and managing other administrative issues.
The third constraint relates to the extent to which universities interact with other agencies to improve the graduate labor market system. The current two-level system of managing higher education institutes builds upon other policy shifts that aimed to reduce direct intervention from the government. The two-level system means universities are managed by the central or provincial governments, with provincial governments playing the major role.
The daunting job market for university graduates affects many beyond just the students and their families that have invested heavily in higher education. Job-hunt difficulties mask several problems within the system itself that may impact on people’s confidence in the reforms that are designed, implemented and planned during China’s transition.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at
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