Job-crunch students get freedom of movement

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 June, 2011, 12:00am

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The central government is to ease its controversial hukou household registration policy - which restricts freedom of movement - for millions of college graduates amid increasingly bleak job prospects.

Under State Council guidelines on job creation for college graduates made public yesterday, they can take up hukou anywhere they secure a job or start a business of their own, except in the four major municipalities of Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing .

Other initiatives in the State Council document include encouraging entrepreneurship and providing incentives for students to take up jobs in impoverished or rural regions.

Statistics from the Ministries of Education and Human Resources and Social Securities show that a record 6.6 million students will graduate from colleges in China this year, while more than 600,000 graduates from last year have yet to secure a job.

The household registration system no longer prevents people from moving from one city to another for work or a better life as it did under the planned economy. But migrants, college graduates from rural areas specifically, who are relocating to cities are at a great disadvantage, as access to many public services and benefits are still tied to the hukou system.

Chen Yu, director of the China Institute for Occupation Research at Peking University, said the new guidelines were a step forward in addressing the job crunch facing college graduates over the next few years, but there were still drawbacks.

For instance, college graduates without hukou in the city where they live cannot gain access to government-subsidised start-up loans of up to 100,000 yuan (HK$120,000) to open their own businesses.

He added that the four major cities had actually tightened up the system in an effort to control the ballooning population.

Only 1.2 per cent of college graduates chose to start up their own business, according to the 2009 Chinese College Graduates' Employment Report.

'The entrepreneurship push should not be judged by how many new graduates will start their own businesses, but by the potential job vacancies their businesses actually create in the future,' Chen said.

Citing the example of Jack Ma, founder of the portal Alibaba.com, Chen said Ma had created thousands of jobs indirectly, in addition to his company's own employees.

6.6m

The number of students set to graduate this year

-600,000 graduates from last year have yet to secure a job