Reading about the high levels of youth unemployment in China there has been a move to encourage university graduates to take jobs in areas outside their degree e.g. manual work. China Central Television has published profiles of university graduates who have made their money doing manual work like selling street food or farming rather than embarking on a career in their area of study at university. Graduates though are criticising the Government on social media in not creating enough jobs for the growing youth population. Unemployment for those between the ages of 16 and 24 has reached close to 20% in contrast to the overall rate of approximately 5%. Traditionally a university education has been a way of improving your standard of living but it seems that a degree is no longer a way out of poverty. This year 11.6m college graduates are expected to enter the labour market but China-based employers are expected to offer fewer jobs than the previous year. Although a mismatch is usually referred to in structural unemployment you can assume that Chinese university graduates have the skills to do manual work but not the desire.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) highlighted some of the many ways that countries could tackle the youth employment challenge:
- Recommending that government policies support employment and lift aggregate demand, including public employment programmes, wage and training subsidies, sectoral programmes, counter-cyclical fiscal policies and youth entrepreneurship interventions.
- Labour-market training and work experience programmes targeting young people so that they don’t leave the labour force. To achieve this there needs to be quality apprenticeships, informal or formal, is another solution for ensuring school-to-work transition. In countries where apprenticeship systems are strong, youth unemployment rates are no higher than those for adults.
- Forging partnerships for scaling up investments in decent jobs for youth. Combining the strength of international organisations, governments, employers and workers to implement global policies can really make a difference.
Source: Financial Times – China urges jobless graduates to ‘roll up their sleeves’ and try manual work. 23 April 2023
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