Job satisfaction, not freedom, will decide social stability

By Ai Jun Source:Global Times Published: 2019/10/31 21:08:40

Demonstrators clash with riot police during protests against the government economic policies, in the surroundings of La Moneda presidential palace in Santiago, on Tuesday. Photo: AFP

After being paralyzed by street protests, Chile on Wednesday announced the cancellation of the APEC summit, originally scheduled in Santiago in November. Many parts of the world are a witness to protests. Aside from Santiago, Paris, Barcelona and Hong Kong are also caught in social turmoil. Is there something in common among the demonstrations? Young people standing at the forefront is one. In the future, the competitiveness and social stability of a city or country will largely link to whether it can satisfy young people's employment needs.

Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs wrote an article in October entitled "Why Rich Cities Rebel." He provided an explanation: "Urban young people not born into wealth despair of their chances of finding affordable housing and a decent job."

In other words, the employment of young people determines the stability of a society. Today, most young people do not need to worry too much about basic living requirements as previous generations did. They tend to be more concerned about the quality of their lives. 

When it comes to jobs, not many would take a stable position as a priority. Instead, their motives to work are diverse - getting a high income, having fun, having enough flexible time or having a sense of accomplishment. 

Social development and technologies are behind the trend. However, thanks to rapid technological advances, a growing number of traditional industries are shrinking and vanishing. This, combined with rising living costs and increasingly fierce competition in job markets are making young people anxious. 

To provide the youth adequate high quality jobs, China has introduced a number of measures, including offering government funding to start-up companies; boosting vocational training; providing more targeted employment services and policies for fresh graduates and veterans; and carrying out new support policies for flexible employment in the new era. 

The country also implemented programs to boost the employment of young Hongkongers. In 2017, the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong signed the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, which offers residents of Hong Kong preferential access to the mainland job market.

Stabilizing and expanding youth employment is not easy, especially in China. In 2019, Chinese universities produced a record 8.34 million graduates, which means China is shouldering greater pressure than any other country. 

Compared to many developed countries, it can be said China has done a decent job. The Korea Herald reported that South Korea's youth unemployment rate reached 10.4 percent in June 2019. 

Statista, an online German statistics portal reported that the youth unemployment rate was 32.2 percent in Spain in August 2019. In China, reports show the unemployment rate of young people aged 15 to 29 was 9 percent in 2018. 

This may serve as a reminder to the Western world. When it continues to point its finger at the Chinese government for lack of so-called freedom and democracy, China is making practical efforts to resolve social problems. It is the West that has ignored the nature of its own troubles and failed to find a way to solve them. 

If the Western system cannot mobilize the competitive spirit of young people while only focusing on looking for solutions for the so-called freedom and democracy, similar chaos will appear in more Western countries. 

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