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Monday, Aug. 23, 2010


Graduate employment crunch

The education ministry's survey of schools as of May 1 sheds light on difficulties that high school and university graduates are encountering in the job market. The government and the corporate sector should take a serious look at the results of the annual survey, which were made public Aug. 5, and consider ways to increase employment.

At universities, there were a record 2.559 million undergraduate students and a record 271,000 graduate students as of May 1 — an increase of 32,000 and 7,000 from the year before, respectively. Women accounted for a record 42.1 percent of the undergraduate students and 30.3 percent of the graduate students. In April, a record 54.4 percent of high school graduates directly went on to four-year universities, two-year colleges or other schools of higher education.

But of this year's high school graduates, only 15.8 percent were able to find jobs — a drop of 2.4 percentage points from fiscal 2009. Only 329,000 university graduates, or 60.8 percent, found employment — a drop of 7.6 points from fiscal 2009, the largest yearly drop since the survey was started in fiscal 1948. Some 19,000 university graduates, or 3.6 percent, chose to take temporary jobs such as part-time jobs — an increase of 6,000 from fiscal 2009.

The future course of 87,000 university graduates or 16.1 percent was undecided — meaning that they neither found employment nor went on to graduate school. In April, some 73,000 university students or 13.4 percent entered graduate schools — an increase of 1.2 points from fiscal 2009.

The possibility cannot be ruled out that some or many of these people chose to enter graduate schools because they could not find employment.

Clearly the government should help the corporate sector with investment in areas where growth can be expected to help create new jobs. Enterprises should rethink their traditional reluctance to hire people who are not among the most recent graduates.

Universities, for their part, must improve career education by motivating students from an early stage to find out what kinds of jobs they are interested in and to make the necessary preparations. They also must gather ample employment-related information and offer it to students.

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