Saturday, March 21, 2009

Over 6 million college graduates will enter China job market in 2009

These days quite a lot of guys lose their good appetites. Global economy is aggravating. Companies are laying off people. The housing price is flying high. The world seems to be surrounded by these eye-catching words. Among them are the college graduates. As reported, graduation means unemployment for millions of graduates this year. They find their way hard. But the financial crisis is the only part of the story. At most, it's merely catalysis. Years ago, I thought this moment would come, sooner or later. Now the crisis just accelerates the process.

Why dare I say so. "Thanks to" the commercialized higher education policy starting from 1999, the number of college students has been growing like a balloon, from 1 million in 1999 to 6 million in 2009. As a contrast, university facilities don't catch up with the speed. Now one job recruiting show can attract as many as tens of thousands graduates. Sure, the job opportunities are limited especially in this bad economic climate. So most of those applicants will be screened out. Anyway, as least it sounds like good news for employers, right? They own a large candidate base. But still the complains from employers are rising to the recent graduates for their lacking competences. Most recently the graduates, who were once decorated as the "social elites", have been enlisted into the class of people that need help along with rural migrant workers. What's the hell are we doing these years?

In this circumstance, the whole nation were mobilized to increase the employment rate of the college graduates. Some odd ideas are invented. Some congressmen suggest universities should create "post-undergraduate" positions akin to "post-doctor". The unemployed graduates are encouraged to seek jobs in rural areas as a solution. Beijing and Guangzhou local authorities decide to hire graduates to serve communities. Shanghai local authority is giving financial support to fresh graduate start-ups. The whole society seem to be enthusiastic to resolve the issue. And MoE has implemented the plan to raise the number of the master students by 5% in 2009. Then will it work?

Are we resolving or just relieving the issue? Why are graduates unwilling to work in the rural areas? Because the working and living conditions are poor there. Some graduates came from villages. Their family spent lots of money to afford the college fees in the hope that the children can change their fortunes. But now nothing has changed. The family's investment doesn't bring them a matching return. As indicated, those "post-undergraduates" won't sign formal contracts with employers. I think it equals to opening a backdoor in the Labor Law, giving the chances to hire employees without basic salaries and social insurances. And since those graduate start-ups lacks too much experience, the possibilities of surviving are low. I see no wisdom to encourage it.

Anyhow, the essential idea is good, to diversify employment opportunities. In short terms, these measures can relieve the pains. But we are surfing on the peak of second wave of baby-boom graduates in the last half century. The society just can't digest the flood. That's the point. So I think there should be a hierarchical change in the higher education. Do we really need so many bachelors, masters as well as doctors in near future? Do we need some many colleges to set majors such as Computer Science/Engineering and Business Management? Do we really need so many future philosophers and scientists? We are creating too many homogeneous graduates with low quality. I think what China lacks currently are skilled workers, proficient peasants and smart businessmen. The university education is not essential. Community colleges or professional schools may be better choices for them. Yes, it's hard to change, especially when it's related to some people's interests. But anyhow, it's crucial to take a responsible attitude to the nation's future.

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