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The young need to cultivate personal traits for jobs

By Chu Zhaohui | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-01-11 07:12


The employment situation in 2024 remains challenging because of factors such as the fast-changing international landscape, economic condition at home, private enterprises' below par performance, and the increasing number of college graduates. Recognizing these challenges, the Ministry of Education recently issued a notice outlining 26 measures to boost employment and entrepreneurship. The notice is especially aimed at youths who will graduate from college this year.

While the notice emphasizes the need to increase market-oriented employment channels and encourage private companies and small and medium-sized enterprises to recruit more people, it acknowledges the limitations of administrative departments in this regard. That's why the notice highlights specific efforts, including ongoing initiatives such as "university leaders visiting enterprises for job opportunities", developing a high-quality employment guidance service system, and increasingly using of the national university student employment service platform to get jobs.

Additionally, it emphasizes leveraging policy-driven positions, exploring grassroots employment opportunities, and continuing initiatives such as the "special positions plan" designed for graduates to teach in rural elementary schools, "three supports and one relief" that encourages graduates to contribute to the development of rural areas by working in fields such as agriculture, education, healthcare and poverty relief, and the "western plan" that encourages graduates to engage in volunteer service in remote western areas for one to three years.

But given that private enterprises typically account for about 90 percent of employment, the impact of policy-driven programs is limited and may not help overcome all the employment challenges. Increasing policy-driven programs beyond the government's fiscal capacity not only disrupts the normal market order and burdens taxpayers, but also affects the business environment of private enterprises, leading to long-term social problems and hindering employment.

On a macro level, the key to solving the employment problem lies in liberated thinking, a regulated legal market, and the use of technologies to create more jobs. Also, by promoting social equality and eliminating extreme disparities, the authorities can empower workers to become real stakeholders in businesses.

People, in general, have a tendency to link employability to educational qualifications. In a society that accords high importance to college degrees, qualifications translate into employability. However, in a normal work evaluation environment, job performance becomes crucial. As such, people who are professionally competent can perform very well at their job, and those with pleasing personality can more easily land a job.

The emphasis on academic qualifications has led to an oversaturation of degrees in the job market. As a result, the number of students taking the postgraduate entrance examination this year has decreased by more than 300,000. The factors contributing to this "degree inflation" are numerous and challenging to address in the short term, meaning they will continue for some time.

As for job seekers, they must broaden their description of job, by moving away from a narrow focus on academic credentials. Surveys show that today's job seekers, mostly the only child of their parents burdened by excessive pressure to earn a college degree but without learning life skills and practical knowledge, often exhibit two common personality deficiencies.

One, being what can be called passive personalities, most of today's job seekers lack the ability to set independent goals for learning and work, and are, to a large extent, dependent on their parents. And two, many of them are loners and therefore reluctant to engage with others and build friendship and forge connections, which could help them get a job.

It is evident that for the majority of job seekers today, learning new skills is key to increasing their chances of getting a job. Hence, higher education institutions should not confine students to classrooms; they should also work out programs to enhance students' cooperation spirit and teach them new skills.

Also, given that technological advancements are creating new employment opportunities, many believe humanities graduates are less likely to get well-paying jobs. Despite this, humanities graduates still find stable jobs in their respective fields. This shows there is still room to accommodate new graduates in the job market.

The author is a senior researcher at the National Institute of Education Sciences. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

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