The "iron rice bowl" concept, or working one job for a lifetime, is on the wane among Chinese youth. Instead, a great number of young people are neither in education, employed nor receiving any professional training, a national report says.
This group of people, according to a report released by the China Youth and Children Research Center and Beijing's Renmin University of China, were dubbed "NEET", or those "Not in Education, Employment or Training."
The report, based on the national census on one percent of the total population in 2005, indicates that 3.6 percent of Chinese between 16 and 29, and 3.2 percent between 16 and 35, were unemployed that year. They were "currently looking for jobs".
Statistics revealed there were 8.86 million NEET aged 16 to 29 and 12.16 million aged 16 to 35 who sought work that year.
Liu Junyan, who was in charge of the report, said many of those youth were willing to work. "It was found that they didn't want to count on their parents but were unable to find jobs because they had grandiose aims but puny abilities".
Some NEET people "pause for awhile in order to fly higher" by pursuing postgraduate studies or preparing for entrance exams at overseas universities such as TOEFL, he said.
"Lifetime study becomes a must due to a fierce job market. Young people, free of family burdens, have abundant time and energy to recharge themselves," said Li, who noted some youth freely changed jobs in the country's current social transitional period.
The report also said about 30 percent of China's overall youth population over 16 were "not at work". These included students, those physically unable to work, current job seekers, and those unemployed for other reasons.
The researchers who drew up the report, which was sanctioned by the State Council, or cabinet, conducted a large-scale youth survey after the fifth national census in 2000.
It aimed to "analyze the basic situation and era characteristics of the country's youth development to gain a general view of the generation of young Chinese born in one-child families".
China has been under great pressure as the number of college graduates keeps surging. Statistics show 5.59 million students will graduate from higher education institutions in 2008, an increase of 640,000 over this year.
About 30 percent, or 1.4 million college graduates, failed to find a job on graduation in 2007.
Chinese Vice-Minister of Labor and Social Security Zhang Xiaojian said that the employment issue would become "more prominent" as more college graduates would enter the job market each year.
Statistics show that a total of 11.84 million urban Chinese found jobs last year, the first time China saw the number of newly employed urban people exceed 10 million in one year.
(Xinhua News Agency December 26, 2007)