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China's graduates face toughest year of job hunting

2013-05-22 08:56     Web Editor: Gu Liping comment

(ECNS) -- A record-high number of new college graduates are pouring into the country's job market this year, but the number of positions has fallen drastically by 15 percent compared to just last year.

A total of 6.99 million students will soon graduate from college. That's more than the entire population of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

This graduation season is haunted by the threat of unemployment, causing netizens to dub 2013 "the worst year to graduate in history."

By April 10, only 3 out of 10 graduates had secured jobs -- of that fortunate group, 26 percent got graduate degrees, 35 percent undergraduate degrees, and 32 percent technical college degrees, according to a survey by Tencent and MyCOS Data, a consulting enterprise. All the figures above are about 11 percent lower than last year.

In Beijing, 229,000 students will graduate this year, 9,000 more than last year; however, there are only 98,000 jobs available for them, 16,000 less on a year-to-year basis, according to data from the city's education committee.

Part of the problem is that many privately owned companies have lowered their hiring quotas. And most are offering jobs that are less lucrative and have fewer benefits than in previous years, due to slower economic growth.

As China struggles to transform its economy, its GDP growth has been reduced to around 7 percent. Every percentage point dropped means more than one million jobs wiped out, a CCTV report has said.

But Ding Dajian, an expert at Renmin University's School of Labor and Human Resources, attributed the "worst year" largely to historical reasons. Because of the rapid expansion of college admissions, the number of grads shot from one million 13 years ago to nearly seven million this year, outpacing the country's economic growth, he said.

"Meanwhile, the system of job assignments in the past was abolished in 2000, which has exacerbated the imbalance between supply and demand in the labor market," he added.

The majors being offered by colleges are also inconsistent with industry needs, another reason for the lower employment rate. "Popular majors such as accounting and law are provided by nearly every college, but there are not enough vacancies in law offices and accounting firms for such a large amount of graduates," said Mo Rong, a researcher at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.

A job fair organizer surnamed Yang told reporters that students majoring in civil engineering who have good social skills can easily find jobs, but it is difficult for those in liberal arts such as history and Chinese literature.

Majors in English, law, computer science, accounting, international economics/trade and business administration have ranked among the top 10 for jobless undergraduates for three consecutive years. In 2012, these majors contributed 32.8 percent to the joblessness rate.

Adding to the strain, many graduates believe they are part of an elite group, and should have easier access to good jobs.

Most grads are still eyeing positions with high salaries in big cities and, according to a recruiter at a heavy metals company in Beijing, many of them refuse to work their way up from the lowest levels.

During a recent visit to a job fair in Tianjin, President Xi Jinping encouraged college students to be ambitious, but also down-to-earth in their job hunting. Extraordinary performances are also possible in ordinary positions, he said.

Speaking at a recent State Council meeting, Premier Li Keqiang also called on graduates to work for small and medium-sized enterprises, in the private sector and at grassroots jobs.

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