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Much like the U.S., China is aiming to address a problematic demographic that has recently emerged: a generation of jobless graduates. China’s solution to that problem, however, has some in the country scratching their heads.
China’s Ministry of Education announced this week plans to phase out majors producing unemployable graduates, according to state-run media Xinhua. The government will soon start evaluating college majors by their employment rates, downsizing or cutting those studies in which the employment rate for graduates falls below 60% for two consecutive years.
The move is meant to solve a problem that has surfaced as the number of China’s university educated have jumped to 8,930 people per every 100,000 in the year 2010, up nearly 150% from 2000, according to China’s 2010 Census. The surge of collge grads, while an accomplishment for the country, has contributed to an overflow of workers whose skill-sets don’t match with the needs of the export-led, manufacturing-based economy.
Yet the government’s decision to curb majors is facing resistance. Many university professors in China are unhappy with the Ministry of Education’s move, as it will likely shrink the talent pool needed for various subjects, such as biology, that are critical to the country’s aim of becoming a leader in science and technology but do not currently have a strong market demand, a report in the state-run China Daily report said.
An op-ed in the Beijing News criticizes the approach for a different reason, saying that it will only spur false reporting of employment rates from schools that are looking for greater autonomy to produce more diversified, higher qualified students.
Official data already shows that the country’s educated jobless, referred to as the “ant tribe,” appear to be decreasing. In 2010, 72% of recent graduates found work, up from 68% in 2009, according to the Ministry of Education.
None of the reports specified which...