2012 is regarded as the “implementation year” of China’s national policy to improve graduate employment prospects. In face of growing difficulties for higher education graduates to land jobs and the continuous growth in the number of graduates, which is estimated to reach 6.8 million by 2012, China announced on November 10 a basket of measures to reduce the unemployment rate of higher education graduates.
In a circular issued by the Ministry of Education, local governments and higher education institutions are urged to boost the employment rate of the graduates by all means. Eight specific measures are outlined in the circular:
- leaders of the provincial governments and higher education institutions must prioritize graduate employment at policy level and introduce concrete measures to boost graduate employment by the end of this year;
- graduates should be encouraged and prepared to take up employment in rural areas, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and the military forces;
- cooperation amongst higher education institutions, enterprises and local governments should be further developed in the provision of entrepreneurial curricula, incubation facilities and support services to encourage entrepreneurial initiatives of the graduates;
- career counseling organisations and services should be professionalised and innovative means (e.g. SMS, micro-blogs) to disseminate employment information should be explored;
- special assistance should be given to secure employment opportunities for graduates from lower socio-economic strata and ethnic minority backgrounds;
- career service management should be modernised and employment statistics audited to enhance the quality and efficiency of graduates’ transition from study to employment;
- academic subjects which have a graduate unemployment rate of 40% or more for two consecutive years will be required to reduce student intake and may eventually be phased out; and
- best practices of graduate employment should be disseminated via media and new graduates should be alerted of employment scams.
Implementation of this comprehensive set of objectives is left in the hands of local governments and institutions. This leaves much room for “creative” (both in the positive and negative sense) as well as short-sighted measures at the local level. In anticipation of this, the Ministry has warned institutions against faking employment statistics while graduates who have prepared themselves to teach in less popular subjects fear vanishing opportunities upon graduating. The pressure is now on local governments and institutions to yield results.
Ministry of Education