Tibetan College Grads Struggle to Find Jobs Amid Chinese Claims of Progress

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A classroom in a school in Tibet's regional capital Lhasa is shown in a 2015 photo.

Tibetan university graduates still struggle to find work in Tibetan regions of China despite reports in state media of high rates of employment, Tibetan sources say.

Figures quoted in an Aug. 20 report by China’s news agency Xinhua said that 23,616 students have graduated this year in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), calling the number “a record high.”

And 67 percent of these have now found jobs with the help of 16 job fairs held by the TAR’s Human Resources and Social Security Department, Xinhua said.

One large fair held on Aug. 20 in Tibet’s regional capital Lhasa provided openings for about 3,900 jobs offered by 300 employers, with vacancies advertised in a range of state-owned and private enterprises including finance, administration, and engineering, the state-controlled news service said.

But with testing and hiring for positions handled by ethnic Chinese, the majority of Tibetan student graduates seeking jobs fail to find work, a recent graduate in Nyingtri prefecture’s Pome (in Chinese, Bomi) county told RFA’s Tibetan Service this week.

“Most Tibetan students can’t pass their job entrance tests,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“There are also fewer positions to fill, and too many applicants taking the exams for the jobs,” the source said, adding, “Tibetan graduates are finding it increasingly difficult to get jobs.”

'Tests are very hard'

Also speaking to RFA, a Tibetan graduate in computer science said he has been unable to find a job in his field.

“I sat the entrance test for employment in my field many times, but the tests are very hard, and I did not pass.”

“I’ve now opened a business selling jewelry so I can make a living,” he said.

A third source in Tibet said that the best opportunity for Tibetan college graduates now is to find work as a primary school teacher in the region’s rural villages.

Changes in education policy in the TAR now make a university degree a requirement for teaching in the primary schools, the source said.

“Therefore, recruitment for these positions has recently been on the rise,” he said.

Mandarin Chinese dominant

Employment for Tibetans in the coveted government sector has meanwhile been placed largely out of reach, with more Chinese university graduates coming in to Tibetan areas to compete for jobs, sources told RFA in earlier reports.

And requirements for proficiency in Mandarin Chinese in testing and consideration for employment have further disadvantaged Tibetan students, as China seeks to promote the dominance of Chinese culture and language in Tibetan areas, sources say.

Language rights have become a focus for Tibetan efforts to assert national identity in recent years, with informally organized language courses typically deemed "illegal associations," and teachers subject to detention and arrest.

Reported by Lobsang Gelek for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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