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Monday, March 16, 2020, 12:23
Special plan needed for employment of grads
By Yang Weiguo
Monday, March 16, 2020, 12:23 By Yang Weiguo


Globally, college graduates as a whole face the greatest difficulty in getting an ideal job, and the cost of hiring college graduates is comparatively high for enterprises because the new recruits have little or no working experience. And when external risks increase, because of crises such as the novel coronavirus outbreak, the enterprises become even more reluctant to hire college graduates.

Yet employment of college graduates is related to not only their career development, but also the return on the investment in higher education, as well as on the high-level development of human resources, which greatly contributes to social development.

In particular, college graduates face serious challenges in getting the right job this year. The number of students passing out of college this year is expected to reach a historical high of 8.74 million, up 4.8 percent year-on-year, at a time when the market demand for college graduates is declining. According to job search engine Baizhi Tech's data on online recruitment, from August 2019 to February this year, the number of new posts for college graduates published online declined 4.4 percent year-on-year.

Facing such challenges, many college graduates are learning high-level practical skills and developing the professional spirit to get an ideal job. But it is also important that they have a clear understanding about their strengths and drawbacks, as well as about the industrial features and job requirements, so they can explore all possible channels for employment.

If the college graduates have difficulty in finding the right job, they could consider accepting the existing options, and then prepare to get a better job later. For instance, jobs in remote and impoverished areas could be their initial choice.

In addition, the rapid development of the internet and information and communications technology (ICT), and digital platforms are convenient, low-risk and low-cost channels for ordinary people to launch start-ups-they could also be a choice for college graduates. But to launch a start-up, a college graduate should first have the knowledge and endurance to emerge victorious in market competition, and be prepared to work hard.

However, since the novel coronavirus outbreak has made it even more difficult for college graduates to seek employment, the government should offer them some support to get a job. It could, for example, initiate a special employment action plan for college graduates this year to help them get jobs, receive higher education or take part in special training programs, in order to prevent a sharp rise in unemployment numbers.

The first priority of the special employment action plan should be to help enterprises to restart operations as soon as possible, so new job opportunities can be created.

Second, the government should implement diversified and flexible employment modes, such as promoting the "sharing-employee" model created by some enterprises, in particular in internet-and ICT-facilitated businesses, to reduce enterprises' human resource cost and encourage them to hire more college graduates.

Third, the authorities need to establish a national compulsory service system and implement a national compulsory service plan, which will make it mandatory for college graduates to work in designated regions, industries and organizations for one full year.

And fourth, enrollment in postgraduate courses should be increased to reduce the number of college graduates seeking jobs this year. In fact, the State Council, China's Cabinet, has already announced that it would take measures to increase postgraduate enrollment.

More importantly, the authorities should work out a long-term strategy to resolve the college graduates' employment issue. They could, for example, devise a strategy to improve higher education quality and promote lifelong learning, so as to ensure college graduates' practical knowledge and skills meet the demand of the job market and socioeconomic development. And reform of higher education is the fundamental way to ensure the graduates develop such knowledge and skills.

Moreover, the authorities should consider implementing a basic employment and income guarantee strategy, and accelerate the establishment of a new social security system to protect workers' right to work.

Employment promotion is a systemic project, which should strike the right balance between a long-term stabilizing strategy and short-term, emergency measures. It should also maintain a balance between the quality and quantity of employment, and the self-responsibility and social protection of employment market players, in order to avoid overdependency on policy and provide sufficient protection to both employers and employees.

The author is the dean of the School of Labor and Human Resources, Renmin University of China. 

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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