(Bloomberg) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to prioritize youth employment and direct more resources to job creation, bolstering expectations for reforms in that sector at a key policy conclave in July. 

Full employment should become a “priority goal” for social and economic development, while employment for college graduates should be the “focus of the focus,” Xi said at a Politburo study session, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Tuesday. 

The comments come as young people have struggled to find jobs in China amid an economic slowdown. Xi had previously instructed them to learn to “eat bitterness,” using a colloquial expression that means to endure hardships. His latest remarks also hint at what China might focus on during its upcoming third plenum, one of the most important events on the country’s political calendar and which sets Beijing’s long-term agenda. 

Xi said at the study session on Monday that China should support the development of industries and enterprises with strong employment capacity, and added that higher education courses and subjects should be adjusted dynamically to meet the needs created by new technologies and industries. 

Xi also said a “correct view for employment” should be instilled into the society. Earlier media reports said younger generations are increasingly shunning factory work for service industry jobs.

Almost 11.8 million graduates will enter China’s job market this year, up 2% over last year, Xinhua reported in December, citing data from the Ministry of Education. Unemployment among 16- to 24-year-olds hit a record high last summer, before Beijing changed the counting method to exclude students, which it said reflected a more accurate picture of unemployment. 

Unemployment for the age group stood at 14.7% in April, down slightly from March. 

The Chinese president last week highlighted other areas that are in need of reform breakthroughs, including property, employment and childcare. Earlier in the month, Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang urged more efforts to ensure stable employment among young people.

“This is all preparing the audience for the third plenum,” said Alicia Garcia Herrero, chief Asia Pacific economist at Natixis SA. She expects the government to pursue policies such as subsidizing employment by increasing the monetary incentives for companies and universities to provide more placements for recent graduates.

--With assistance from Josh Xiao and Yujing Liu.

(Updates with economist comment, details throughout)

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