President Xi Jinping aims to reassure students at jobs fair in Tianjin
In surprise visit to jobs fair, president reassures 200 young people that leaders are aware of the difficulties they face in the jobs market
President Xi Jinping yesterday met hundreds of soon-to-be university graduates at a job fair in Tianjin , in what was viewed as a sign of concern among national leaders for nearly 7 million students trying to enter the most contentious labour market in years.
About 200 university students seeking jobs had an unexpected close encounter with Xi yesterday at Tianjin's Development Promotion Centre of Human Resources during his one-day trip to the city, said Kong Kong, an HR manager who saw Xi.
"He arrived at the centre around 10.30am and left about an hour later," Kong said. "Xi dropped by several employers' stalls and asked about the current job market situation.
"He also had quick chats with some students. They were so excited," Kong said, noting that students applauded in agreement when Xi acknowledged that it was not easy to find a job.
Xinhua's official microblog said Xi also had a panel discussion with unemployed Tianjin residents and local representatives of university graduates. Xi said having a job was the foundation of people's livelihood, and employment struggles were becoming a global problem, Xinhua said. Xi was quoted as saying that only economic development could generate employment and solve the problem.
Jobseekers are facing a particularly tough labour market this year, with an estimated 7 million graduates expected to seek work, said the Economic Information Daily, which is run by Xinhua. That number is reportedly on top of at least 700,000 graduates who failed to secure jobs last year.
As of Friday, about 55 per cent of upcoming graduates had yet to find jobs - an increase of two percentage points from the year-ago period, the Economic Information Daily reported.
Meanwhile, the job market appears to be shrinking. The daily's recent survey of 500 employers show their businesses have an average of 15 per cent fewer positions available now compared with the same time last year, due to rising global uncertainties and the sliding domestic economy.
The potentially large pool of unemployed graduates has raised concerns about social stability, prompting authorities to embark on a job-creation drive. In recent years, the central and local governments have outlined several measures to create more jobs, including offering loans for graduates to set up businesses, easing residency restrictions on non-locals, and extending financial aid to graduates in need.
Meanwhile, pledges from officials to generate employment have done little to allay concerns.
Liu Wei, who will graduate next month with a degree in marketing from Shenzhen University, said, "I want a job, no matter what it is. … I can't find a job in the city. It's so heartbreaking."