Thousands college graduates vie for jobs as street sweepers in China

Creating jobs will be a top priority for China’s new leaders.At least the 3,000 recent college graduates in China’s northern city of Harbin, who are queuing up for 457 jobs as street sweepers, will say so.

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 November, 2012, 11:31am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 November, 2012, 12:32pm

Creating jobs will be a top priority for China’s new leaders.

At least the 3,000 recent college graduates in China’s northern city of Harbin, who are queuing up for 457 jobs as street sweepers, will say so.

This is bad news for China’s blue-collar workers, who are suddenly facing competition from young people with diplomas.

Are you serious? Four years of college education, millions of hours spent on exams, a childhood filled with stress, all in return for a “lowly” job picking up litter and sweeping the streets? Wouldn’t this actually be worse than being jobless for an image-conscious Chinese?

Don’t get me wrong. I respect street sweepers. They are hard-working people, often with discipline and skills the rest of us lack. Remember, these college graduates have just devoted the first 20 years of their lives to exams. When was the last time they used a broom?

So, what is it all about?

Ask any Chinese, and they will tell you the little secret: “Bian Zhi.”

“Bian Zhi” is the Chinese government’s system of taking care of its employees. People with Bian Zhi tend to live a stress-free life. The perks are obvious. Compensation is great, work is minimal, and the government retirement scheme is unbelievably generous.

Wait until your promotion arrives and it gets better: free overseas trips, free cars with free travel allowances, boot-lickers fighting each other to slip gift cards through your door.  And you never need to worry about losing your job, unless, of course, your wife accidentally murders a British man.

We all get the idea now. It’s not really the rubbish the college graduates are after; it’s life behind the rubbish, a superior and stable one that they kill for.
Admit it. Something is seriously wrong with China’s education system. Look at the litany of young men they have educated.

Those young graduates, in their most productive and energetic years, care nothing about creating wealth. Instead, they prefer to enjoy the fruits of other people’s labours. And they do it without any regrets.

But let’s delve even further. Since “stability” is the most cited cause for graduates’ choice of work, how true is the claim? Obviously “love for one’s country” is not the cause. Otherwise the ocean patroller jobs recently posted by the State Oceanic Administration wouldn’t have ended up unanswered.

Or is “wealth” the real target?  Have China’s private sector become so weak and public sector so strong, that people actually believe working as a street sweeper could be profitable?

And we all have to ask, what is discouraging China’s young men from pursuing their dreams and applying themselves to the real world?

 

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