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College Grads: The PLA Wants You!

Delegates from Chinese People's Liberation Army pose for photos outside the Great Hall of the People
Delegates from Chinese People's Liberation Army pose for photos outside the Great Hall of the PeoplePhotograph by Feng Li/Getty Images

Over the past decade, China has invested significantly in higher education—and roughly quadrupled the number of students graduating college annually, to about 7 million. Unfortunately, demand for diploma-holders in China hasn’t kept pace, and the bleak job prospects of the class of 2013 are a frequent source of lament on Weibo, China’s Twitter. Even the state-run Global Times newspaper, usually known for patriotic boosterism, recently printed a depressing chart suggesting that the number of available new positions for graduates has actually been declining.

One institution is expanding its efforts to recruit college graduates: the People’s Liberation Army. The Beijing News has reported on a change in hiring policy that took effect on June 24. In addition to increased financial compensation, army recruits who have graduated from universities in Beijing will be eligible for permanent Beijing residence cards, called hukous, after they complete their tours of duty and find other jobs in the city. The sought-after hukou is required to purchase an apartment or send children to school in Beijing—in short, to set down permanent roots in the city. In recent years the government has been allocating fewer new hukous for private employers to grant employees in China’s over-crowded capital.