Hong Kong: As the jobless rate among Chinas youth soars, Guangdong, the countrys richest province, has offered a highly controversial solution to send 300,000 unemployed young people to the countryside for two to three years to find work, a media report said.
Guangdong, the manufacturing powerhouse, said last month it will help college graduates and young entrepreneurs to find work in villages, according to the CNN report
It also encouraged rural youth to return to the countryside to look for jobs there.
The announcement followed President Xi Jinping’s call last December for urban youth to seek jobs in rural areas in an effort to “revitalise the rural economy”, in an echo of a previous campaign launched decades ago by former leader Mao Zedong in which tens of millions of urban youth were effectively exiled to remote areas of China.
Guangdong’s plan, which was widely panned on social media, coincided with the rate of urban unemployment among 16- to 24-year-olds surging to 19.6 per cent, the second highest level on record.
That translates to about 11 million jobless youth in China’s cities and towns, according to CNN.
The youth unemployment rate could increase further, as a record number of 11.6 million college students are set to graduate this year and seek jobs in an already crowded market.
“If the earlier Covid-19 protests reveal anything, it’s that large numbers of angry, well-educated youth in China’s cities could present big problems for the ruling Chinese Communist Party,” CNN quoted Alex Capri, a research fellow at the Hinrich Foundation, as saying while referring to demonstrations in November 2022.
“Dispersing them to smaller villages in the country side could mitigate this risk and, possibly, help diminish income disparities between China’s tier 1 and tier 2 cities and the poorer areas of the country.”
China’s youth are the most educated in decades, with record numbers of graduates from colleges and vocational schools. But they also face a growing mismatch between their expectations and opportunities as the economy slows significantly.
Frustrated by mounting uncertainties and a lack of social mobility, young people are increasingly losing hope that a college degree can bring the same returns it once did, CNN reported.