Record high youth unemployment pushes China’s province to roll out 100-day plan to help university graduates ‘land a job’

In response to the alarming rise in youth unemployment, Henan Province, the third most populous province in China known for its iPhone factories, transportation networks, and agricultural sector, has launched an initiative aimed at helping university graduates secure employment. The campaign, which will run for 100 days until the end of August, specifically targets graduates from low-income backgrounds, individuals with physical disabilities, and those who have been unemployed for an extended period.

Recognizing the impact of the pandemic on internship opportunities for this year’s graduates, the province’s education department emphasized the need for universities to prioritize their support. They urged educational institutions to assess the number of graduates facing employment challenges and provide tailored guidance to motivate them in finding a job as quickly as possible.

Henan Province anticipates a total of 870,000 university graduates this year, contributing to the nationwide estimate of 11.58 million. As youth unemployment continues to be a pressing concern for the Chinese government during its recovery efforts, the jobless rate among the 16-24 age group rose to 20.4% in April, up from 19.6% in March.

While the overall urban jobless rate has remained relatively stable, standing at 5.2% in April (down from 5.3% in March), provincial governments face increasing pressure to address the employment challenges faced by students, especially during the graduation season.

Henan’s education department outlined several measures to tackle the issue. Unemployed graduates will receive at least three personalized counseling sessions, attend a minimum of three job search activities, and be recommended three employment opportunities. Additionally, universities in Henan are encouraged to explore the option of enrolling students in second undergraduate degree programs to alleviate the problem. Leaders from these institutions will also visit at least 100 employers to seek potential job prospects for graduates.

To address the issue of some graduates being perceived as solely seeking stable jobs, the education department urged schools to identify these individuals and take necessary actions. This reference was made to those who have previously procrastinated in their job search, preferring the security provided by state-owned enterprises.

As part of efforts to bridge the urban-rural development gap and alleviate job pressures, Beijing has been actively promoting career opportunities in rural areas. President Xi Jinping’s call to “revitalize the countryside” has led to a national action plan that encourages graduates to work as grassroots officials, entrepreneurs, and volunteers. This initiative aims to attract talent, resources, and projects back to rural regions.

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