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Graduates encouraged to look at jobs at grassroots

Cheng Si
Updated: July 19, 2022 09:11    China Daily

In the face of the challenging employment situation for young people, college graduates and others are being encouraged by the government to take more jobs at the community level.

Young people have felt the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and an economic downturn to a greater extent than many, as they have come at a crucial time in regards to starting careers and realizing opportunities.

According to figures by the National Bureau of Statistics released on July 15, the surveyed unemployment rate of young people aged 16 to 24 was 19.3 percent in June. By comparison, the same figure for June 2019, before the pandemic hit, was 11.9 percent.

To encourage more young people to take up community posts, the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, and the Ministry of Education have released a notice requiring all community management committees to make positions open to college graduates.

The notice said community committees must plan annual recruitment campaigns to fill all job openings. It sets the target that by 2025, for every 10,000 people in a residential community there should be 18 social workers.

Local authorities are also being required to support communities and organizations that deal with nursing, domestic services, property management and healthcare, so that they can offer more job opportunities to college graduates.

Following the notice, many local authorities have come up with new methods to attract more young people. It is hoped that these actions will go some way to addressing the employment challenges faced by China's growing new graduate population, which this year stood at 10.7 million.

In a notice released earlier this month, Zhejiang province said it is developing more grassroots vacancies in urban communities and in the countryside.

According to the notice, the province plans to recruit 19,000 social workers for community management, the highest head count in recent years, and all these vacancies will be available to college graduates. As of July 6, 2,039 college graduates had taken such positions.

"These actions are good ways to help find jobs for college graduates, who are facing greater employment pressure in the graduation season. It's also beneficial to build up a more modern and professional management team in communities," said Pang Shi, director of the department of employment and entrepreneurship at the Chinese Academy of Personnel Science.

According to her, despite the overall landscape of the job market being in a stable recovery after the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, young people aged between 16 and 24 still face tough employment challenges due to the ever-increasing population of college graduates.

"So encouraging young people such as college graduates to work at the community level, or for them to start their own businesses, will increase their chances of finding employment. Actually, the view of young job seekers on employment has changed since the epidemic outbreak, and they are now more focused on stress-free and stable jobs," said Pang.

"It's necessary to create more vacancies catering to the needs of young people and to give them security and career prospects, so they not only take community posts, but also stay in them."

Many young people have even stressed their preference for community-level jobs in second and third-tier cities in recent years, according to a recent survey by MyCOS, an education consultancy headquartered in Beijing.

The survey shows that more college graduates have chosen grassroots jobs in counties or districts in some second- and third-tier cities in the past five years. Their willingness to take such jobs has grown after the outbreak of COVID-19.

The survey reveals that the number of college graduates who chose to work in counties rose by four percentage points in 2021 compared to 2017.

"It's social progress, I think, that more young people are willing to take grassroots jobs. There are some practical reasons, for example, the higher living costs and housing prices in some big cities like Beijing and Shanghai. The job market in these big cities is also saturated," said Chen Lixiang, vice-chairman for the Chinese Society for Technical and Vocational Education.

He said that it's necessary for the public to change their views or stereotypes around the employment of college graduates when the gross enrollment ratio of college students-a target of 60 percent by 2025-will turn the traditional "elite education" into a "public education". Thus the employment of college graduates is no longer the traditional mode of "elite employment".

"It's good for college graduates to work at the grassroots so they can use their knowledge to push forward a more professional management and service system in communities. We should face the situation, or the trend, with a peaceful mind. It's key for young people to find the job they are really suited for," he added.