BEIJING -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has pledged to university students that the government would seek to provide more jobs for graduates and "put the issue of graduate employment first".
"Your difficulties are my difficulties, and if you are worried, I am more worried than you," Wen told the students at the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Wen made the remarks in a surprise visit on Saturday afternoon after attending the closing ceremony of a year-long exchange program between Chinese and Japanese young people together with former Japanese Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo.
He said the country is in a difficult period as the global financial crisis has continued affecting the country's real economy. The government has taken measures to sustain the economy, such as the four-trillion-yuan stimulus package and interests cuts.
"We are considering taking more measures at proper time. But currently we are most concerned about two issues, migrant workers returning home and employment for graduates," Wen said.
The financial crisis and China's slowing economic growth has forced 4 million migrant workers to return to their rural homes, according to a report from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
The report also said as of the end of this year, 1.5 million graduates are likely to have failed to find jobs, and the country could see an ever tougher employment situation in 2009 as there will be about 6.1 million seeking jobs.
"We are also studying a package to guarantee jobs for graduates and it will kick in soon", Wen said. "The government will encourage major enterprises to increase recruits from graduates, seek more jobs in grassroots, offer opportunities of further study and skill training."
Scientific research projects conducted by companies, institutions and universities should recruit graduates, and companies must not lay off graduates even if times are hard, he added.
Wen reiterated "confidence", saying it is much more important than gold and money.