• Kyodo News

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Only 68.8 percent of university students had found jobs as of Dec. 1 before their graduation this March, down 4.3 percentage points from a year earlier and the lowest level since 1996, when officials first started compiling comparable data.

It is the first time the percentage, compiled in an annual survey, sank below the 70 percent line at this stage of polling.

For graduating junior college students, the figure stood at 45.3 percent, also a record low and down 2.1 percentage points, the poll by the labor and education ministries found.

Among high school students, the percentage came to 70.6 percent as of Nov. 30, up 2.5 points from the year before. The ratio of job openings to high school students looking for work was 1.03, down 0.02 point.

The results of a tally showed there were about 174,000 job openings for graduating high school students, down 0.8 percent, against around 168,000 seekers, up 0.6 percent.

For junior high school students, the ratio of openings to seekers was 0.41, up 0.02 point.

The ministries picked 62 four-year universities, both public and private, and 20 two-year junior colleges nationwide to check job offers for graduating students.

The poll showed that 70.1 percent of male students had job offers, down 2.9 points, against 67.4 percent for female students, down 5.8 points. Among students at public universities, 76.7 percent had received job offers, down 4.0 points, while a record low 66.3 percent at private schools had found jobs, down 4.2 points.

Job offers for science and engineering students fell by the largest margin ever, down 7.3 points to 71.3 percent. Among students majoring in liberal arts, 68.3 percent had received job offers, down 3.7 points, that field’s biggest margin of drop.

On the fall in offers for science and engineering majors, an education ministry official said, “Companies tend to favor students from graduate school as work-ready graduates.”

The labor ministry announced temporary measures Tuesday to help graduating high school and university students find jobs promptly, featuring subsidies to be paid to firms that decide to employ them during the two-month period through the end of March.

In addition, the labor and education ministries will increase subsidies for businesses that decide to hire graduates within three years of their graduation.

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