How China is scrambling to find jobs amid COVID-19 for 9 million college graduates

How China is scrambling to find jobs amid COVID-19 for 9 million college graduates

  • In May, China’s Ministry of Education unveiled a “One-Hundred Day Project” to help this year’s college graduates find employment in one of the worst job markets in recent history.
  • But serious challenges remain.

This summer, 8.74 million Chinese students are set to graduate from universities and enter into one of the worst job markets in recent memory. In late May, China’s top leaders pledged to “use all possible means” to ensure a stable job market, setting a target of 9 million new jobs this year.

As part of those means, China’s Ministry of Education launched a 100-day campaign on May 6 — called the One-Hundred Day Project — to help newly minted college graduates find employment. The campaign includes finding positions in state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and drafting more graduates into the military.

The project has introduced preferential policies like increasing bonuses to boost army enlistment. College graduates will receive priority for enlistments and receive a school tuition reimbursement of up to 8,000 yuan ($1,126) per year.

China has long sought to diversify its army, which primarily consists of young men from rural provinces without a college degree. Indeed, this is not the first time China has solved a job crisis through military recruiting. After a steep job downturn resulting from the global financial crisis in 2009, the People’s Liberation Army recruited more than 130,000 graduates, offering a one-time rebate of up to 24,000 yuan ($3,500) on college tuition fees.

The government has also encouraged companies to extend their recruitment seasons, although many (mostly private) businesses remain reluctant to recruit new graduates.

China’s SOEs, however, are taking on record numbers. Sinopec, a Chinese oil and gas giant, is hiring another 3,500 students atop the nearly 6,600 recruits it has already taken on — the most hires it has ever welcomed in a calendar year.