A Chinese official tells millions of unemployed new graduates they can only blame themselves

What do you mean, you couldn’t get to the front of the line?
What do you mean, you couldn’t get to the front of the line?
Image: Reuters/Sean Yong
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In China, this year’s been dubbed the “worst year in history to graduate.” Nearly half of China’s graduating class, or about three million people, were still struggling to find jobs before they graduated, according to officials at a conference over the weekend on social security reform in China.

That not only adds strain to China’s underdeveloped social security system and hinders economic growth at a time when China most needs it, it increases the ranks of an educated, disaffected youth (never good for one-party rule). And whose fault is this situation? According to one official at the conference: the graduates themselves.

The head of the Social Security Capacity Building Center under China’s ministry of human recourses and social security, Wang Yujun, said (article in Chinese), ”On one hand, the number of graduates is high. But the other issue is that a lot of graduates want stable and high-paying, cozy jobs. One of the causes of unemployment among graduates is that expectations are too high.”

In contrast, students are blaming the universities and authorities’ blind expansion of China’s higher education for simply striving to increase enrollment numbers but not equipping students with needed skills. Over the last decade, China has overhauled its higher education system to churn out more educated and skilled workers. This year’s graduating class is the largest ever in the People’s Republic’s history. But the economy’s growth has slowed and businesses, specifically small and medium-sized firms, have been shrinking.

As we’ve written before, national and local governments are trying different programs to get graduates into jobs, but it’s unclear those measures are working so far. Wang also said he fears the employment situation for college graduates will “continue for years.”