Posted by: Frederik Balfour on January 20, 2009
Desperate times call for desperate measures. As the worldwide slowdown starts to bite in China, job hunting has become particularly brutal. According to the official state news ageny Xinhua, more than 1000 hopeful candidates were caught cheating for the annual civil service exams, where 775,000 people competed for 13,500 jobs. Some even resorted to inserting micro-receivers in their ears to receive remote coaching while sitting the tests. The number of cheaters nabbed this year are much higher than in the past.
Meanwhile, the official English language China Daily reported on Tuesday that at the end of 2008, urban unemployment rose to 4.2%, up 0.2% from a year earlier. However that figure grossly underestimates the actual figures which may be closer to 10%, as many urban migrant workers are not officially listed as residents and hence not captured in official figures. Chinese officials have been voicing their concern about the rising level of joblessness in the country, and several municipalities have announced job creation programs to help improve things. One program mooted includes sending university graduates to the countryside to tutor peasants. Premier Wen Jiabao earlier this month said the roughly 6 million university graduates coming onto the job market face a “grim” situation. Beijing has made it increasingly difficult for companies to lay off their workers in the current downturn in order to keep people at work and off the streets. The government is particularly nervous about social unrest this year, which will mark the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.