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China looks to spur job prospects for record number of new graduates

China will offer subsidies, tax breaks and easier loans to boost prospects for college graduates, the cabinet said on Friday, as a record number are set to enter the workforce this year, amid downside risks to economic growth stemming from COVID-19 curbs.

On offer are subsidies for small firms that hire such candidates, as well as tax breaks, easier loan terms and rent-free premises for graduates who launch start-ups, the general office of the State Council, or cabinet, said in a notice.

“China … encourages employers in COVID-hit regions to sign labour contracts with college graduates online,” it said, promising support for smaller and medium-size enterprises in their efforts to hire more college graduates.
China wants to promote healthy development of the online platform economy, it added. This is a big source of jobs, crucial at a time when a record 10.76 million are set to finish college this year.

But the worst COVID-19 outbreaks since 2020 have added to the pressures they face, besides putting at risk the small firms that are a mainstay of economy and a key source of jobs.

The world’s second largest economy is tackling the Omicron variant with a “dynamic clearance” policy that has brought full or partial lockdowns in dozens of cities, including a six-week city-wide clampdown in the commercial centre of Shanghai.

Small businesses in particular, suffered in the accompanying disruptions in services and logistics.

China wants to add more than 11 million urban jobs this year, rising to as many as 13 million, Premier Li Keqiang said in March. But recently he has called the employment situation “complicated and grim.”

In written remarks to a teleconference of provincial leaders on Saturday, Li added “stabilising employment is critical to people’s livelihood, and is the key support for the economy to operate within a reasonable range.”

China’s surveyed urban jobless rate hit its highest in nearly two years in March at 5.8%, while the rate for jobseekers aged between 16 and 24 reached 16.0%, the highest since July 2021, official data showed.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Ellen Zhang and Ryan Woo; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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