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New Grads to Strain Job Market

About 70 percent of last year's university graduates found jobs in their first year out of school, and more effort will be needed to maintain that level this year, said officials from the Ministry of Education on Wednesday.

The ministry is urging regional education departments to give more assistance to new graduates seeking work.

"Government institutions should continue to help students get small loans to start businesses. Regional labor and social security administrations must help safeguard students' interests in salary and labor disputes," said Liu Dawei, of the ministry's Department for College Student Affairs.

Last year, as graduates faced fierce employment competition, the ministry and related departments developed a small-loan system to help students create jobs.

Chen Xi, in charge of student employment affairs, said that no data is yet available on the number of students who received such loans nationwide. However, most local governments worked hard to implement the policy, said Chen.

Last year, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce also implemented a tax-exemption policy to encourage students to run their own companies.

Xiao Xiao, a computer science graduate of Chongqing University, set up a computer networking company in Chongqing Municipality. Xiao believes the policy gives impetus to college students who want to run their own companies.

The Ministry of Education is also revamping and expanding senior vocational education, which gives students highly marketable job skills.

Senior vocational schools are being required to phase out theory-oriented curricula and open practical skills training. These schools will open centers that provide hands-on experience to prepare students for employment.

Beginning this year, senior vocational schools across the country will offer courses in digital-control technology, automobile maintenance, computer and software science and nursing, all fields suffering shortages of qualified workers.

China has 908 senior vocational education schools scattered throughout 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions.

(China Daily May 13, 2004)

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