Looking for work becoming a career in itself

Updated: 2013-06-20 07:23

By Wang Wen (China Daily)

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New graduates forced to adjust dreams to tough realities of nation's weak employment market

Xie Dong, who will graduate from Xi'an University of Architecture and Technology this month, had to give up his career ambitions and accept a job his aunt arranged for him.

"I did not get any reply after sending over 20 resumes to the enterprises I am interested in," said the 24-year-old. "I did not even have the opportunity to show myself to the enterprises."

With his family's help, Xie will go to work in a small State-owned company as soon as he graduates at the end of June.

Not every fresh graduate is as lucky as Xie. Most of them have struggled amid what is being called the most difficult year for fresh graduates' employment ever.

By April 10, only 35 percent of this year's graduates had signed job contracts with their future employers, which was 12 percentage points lower than the previous year, according to a survey from MyCOS HR Digital Information Co Ltd, a consulting company dealing with higher education.

The employment rate of postgraduates was even lower, at 26 percent, the report said.

Many companies have cut their recruitment plans for fresh graduates, amid slowing economic growth.

"Our company cut more than 30 percent of graduate recruitment," said a human resource manager from a State-owned bank.

The increasing number of college graduates is a primary reason for the most difficult employment year. There will be 6.99 million fresh college graduates in 2013, the most since 1949, according to the Ministry of Education.

"It is the worst year ever," said Gao Hua, an assistant professor from the finance school of a key university in Beijing.

Only two graduates in his postgraduate class of 32 students had received job offers as of the middle of June, one month away from graduation, said Gao. In the past, most of his students got jobs before they graduated.

Graduates' employment pressure will continue, since the number of fresh graduates will remain at about 7 million annually in the next five years, said Minister of Human Resources and Social Security Yin Weimin, the Beijing Times reported on Tuesday.

Economic growth is the way to resolve the employment problem, Yin said, and China's service industry has great potential, as the industry contributes only 36 percent of employment, which is much lower than the developing countries' average level.

Many Chinese firms encounter recruitment problems because of the mismatch of human resource supply and demand, experts said.

Large State-owned companies and public institutions are the fresh graduates' favorites, while small private ones are often ignored.

Li Fengyun, a postgraduate student at Beijing Foreign Studies University, is still waiting for a job offer from a primary school in Haidian district, although she already went through orientation at a listed educational service provider in Beijing.

The 26-year-old sent out more than 100 resumes in the past five months, targeting public schools and institutions.

"I want an easy life with more time to study," she said, because she still plans to apply for a doctoral program in the future.

Salary is not too important to Li. Her only requirement is housing. "It will cost too much to rent an apartment in Beijing and I prefer jobs providing dorm space," she added.

A report by Zhaopin.com, one of China's largest providers of human resource services, found that college graduates prefer big cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

But staying in the big cities is an involuntary choice, some graduates said.

"Both my family and I want me to go back to my hometown, but I would have to work in a totally different industry from my major," said Wang Ting, a fresh graduate majoring in advertisement design at a college in Beijing.

Wang said there is no real advertisement company in her hometown, a small city in Henan province, but such companies are everywhere in Beijing.

Actually, the structural contradiction is a real problem for China's human resource market, Zhaopin.com said in its report.

China's professional job market is still booming, and 75 percent of Chinese employers are recruiting or replacing staff at senior levels, Antal International, a United Kingdom-based recruitment and headhunting company, said in its latest global snapshot survey.

Antal International said automotive industry, retail and luxury goods and healthcare specialists are highly sought after in China.

Sales and marketing as well as research and development specialists are also in demand, according to its survey.

"Sales and marketing remains strongly in demand within companies as they focus on acquiring market share in tier-two, three and four cities in China," said James Darlington, Antal's head of Asia.

Yang Ziman contributed to this story.

(China Daily USA 06/20/2013 page14)