Demand for blockchain technology experts is skyrocketing in China, with an almost tenfold increase in the first two months of this year, according to analysis from recruiting app Boss Zhipin.
Job opportunities in the blockchain sector rose by 9.7 times between Jan 1 and Feb 28 — the peak recruitment season — compared with the same period last year, according to a research report released recently.
Engineers in the field can now command an average salary of 25,800 yuan ($4,080), it added.
Blockchain technology offers an open and decentralized database by linking a continuously growing list of records, or blocks, and allows market participants to keep track of digital currency transactions.
Thousands of blockchain startups have been created amid cryptocurrency fever, and companies focused on the internet, software and financial services are getting to grips with the new systems.
The number of enterprises looking for experts in the field has increased 4.6 times and the supply-demand ratio has reached as low as 0.15, meaning demand is far outstripping supply, according to the report.
Chang Meng, director of Boss Zhipin Research, said that blockchain overturned the traditional production model and created a new type of internet, and such evolution makes many enterprises scramble to get a piece of the action.
"But the future of blockchain remains foggy in China," Chang said. "It's still at an early stage, and we don't know exactly how such technology is going to hit the market. No actual product is put into use yet, so we'll just have to wait and see."
The analysis also indicates that skills like coding, graphic design and search algorithms are highly favored by employers, and candidates with interdisciplinary and multiple skills will have a distinct advantage.
Wang Xiaosen, a graduate in web intelligence from King's College London, said a high proficiency in programming languages like python and java is considered essential by most companies.
"They will then give you many practical cases and ask you to analyze and solve them. It's not easy," Wang said.
Another notable shift in the job market is the industries that suffer the biggest shortage of talent. While the internet remains the first in seeking employees, construction, services, healthcare and trade top the list, replacing traditionally popular sectors like finance and communications.
"This change is closely connected with policies," Chang said. "It showcases not only the strong driving force of the Belt and Road Initiative, which requires increasing infrastructure, but also China's transition from manufacturing to a more service-based economy."
First-tier cities still provide the highest average monthly salaries, with 10,712 yuan in Beijing and 10,128 yuan in Shanghai, but young workers aged 18 to 35 are showing dwindling interest in working there, with the number dropping from 65.8 percent in 2015 to 46.5 percent in 2017.
Among all job seekers, 35.5 percent now choose Hangzhou, Wuhan, Chengdu, Zhengzhou and Xi'an as their career destinations, making these five cities the "new" first-tier with high potential to lure talent.
"It's too competitive in Shanghai. Every student majoring in banking or finance will pick to go there," said Yao Qinshan, 24, a finance graduate from King's College London. "Xi'an is much easier. I only applied for two companies and they both sent me an offer."
Liu Yang, a HR director from Agitek, a high-tech company specializing in equipment testing and measurement based in Xi'an, said it has seen a surge in talent inflow. "Especially for those who were born in Xi'an, they have faced greater pressure in both life and work in other cities, and many of them choose to come back."
A record more than 8.2 million of graduates are expected to enter the job market this year.