As the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover draws near, Hong Konger Thomas Chan reflects on the changes that have taken place over the last few years and the real and pressing issue of residents, especially the young, drifting away. Most are seeking better prospects abroad in a wry turn of events from a time when the city was viewed as the land of opportunity. Now, amid dreary skies and Telegram alerts announcing yet another citizen-police chase, the city stands forlorn as it watches its people leave.
In pursuit of better working conditions, China's post-00s generation has gained a reputation for being newbies who are difficult to manage and who show their superiors little respect. While those who go to extremes may be in the minority and some admire their brave fight for workplace rights, ultimately, they may be putting their job prospects in jeopardy.
Even with the easing of lockdown measures across China, the prolonged uncertainty has left a deep impact on youths. The grim employment outlook, volatile pandemic situation, along with the lack of mental health support, have led to elevated feelings of anxiety and insecurity among the young generation.
Recently, there has been an uproar in China over illustrations in school textbooks, with comments that the characters drawn are “ugly”, with some depicted in suggestive poses and wearing questionable designs on clothing. Is this merely a question of aesthetics, or does the problem go deeper? Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan looks into the issue.
Former journalist Lim Jen Erh gets nostalgic about the Chinese textbooks he used growing up in Singapore. He remembers the illustrations depicting daily life in the 1960s and 1970s, not to mention historical events and the larger social milieu. In fact, the textbooks are not only a window into times past but a peek into the minds of those who wrote and studied them.
China’s education ministry recently introduced a new curriculum for primary and secondary students with the aim of teaching life skills. From cooking to technology applications, young children will be better equipped to face society. However, parents have voiced their concerns about the added burden on both children and parents.
Despite a record number of graduates entering the job market this year, China is seeing a shortage of skilled tradesmen, especially for the manufacturing industry. Chinese economics professor Li Jingkui believes that the main reason for the talent demand gap is China’s education system, which is driven by remnants of the backward ideology of the ancient feudal society.
With over ten million Chinese university students set to graduate this year, the competition for jobs will be more intense than ever, and it does not help that certain sectors are scaling back recruitments for various reasons. Can the potential mismatch of jobs and skills be rectified? And will the impact of youth employment difficulties spill over to other areas?
Over the past three decades, China has implemented and revised its labour regulations in an effort to progress its market economy. Despite the strengthening of labour protection, young migrant workers have fallen through the cracks. Chinese economics professor Li Jingkui believes that the labour reforms have led to the social phenomenon of “Sanhe legends” — youths who are caught in an employment cycle characterised by poor working conditions, low wages and a lack of stability.