A survey conducted by www.800hr.com of more than 1,000 Chinese university students graduating this year showed that only 12.1% had "successfully" found jobs, indicating that the employment situation for educated young people presents an ever-growing challenge.
University graduates queue for a job fair in Beijing on October 8, 2008.
The survey found that by the end of August, nearly 80 percent of newly-graduating job hunters were jobless, while about 10 percent were dissatisfied with the jobs they had found and planned to seek better employment.
Various factors lead to the difficult situation
Liao Jun, an economist from the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, identified three major factors contributing to the difficult employment situation.
Firstly, motivated principally by tradition, most Chinese graduates still hope to take jobs "inside the system". This means working in governmental institutions or state-owned enterprises, because they offer "comparatively stable incomes and good development space," said Liao.
Secondly, there are big differences in the development level between the country's eastern and western regions. Most graduates target the developed eastern regions and the big cities, despite the fact the employment market there is comparatively saturated.
Thirdly, enterprises with a comparatively high demand for additional workers have a comparatively low requirement for the latter's level of education and overall quality. "Many posts have low requirements in regard to a worker's technical skills. Ordinary workers can handle these requirements at a lower wage, and this has impacted upon university graduates' employment prospects," said Liao.
Shi Zhijie, an analyst from www.800hr.com, said that misleading employment information, insufficient effort, and excessive aspirations have also produced a bottleneck in graduate employment.
Shi recently conducted a survey among some "successful" job hunters. According to her survey, 48 percent found jobs after numerous and repeated interviews, while 22 percent because they were in specialized fields where talent was "in short supply". About 8 percent and 11 percent got jobs through the student's "good references" or "guanxi" (relationship with an influential person or persons).
"The result shows that enterprises' requirements for qualified personnel have moved away from pursuit of interpersonal relationships towards close attention to personal qualities," said Ms Shi.
Ways to cope with the situation
Liao Jun made four suggestions for coping with the difficult employment situation.
Firstly, the government should develop policies to eliminate differences between employment "inside" and "outside" the system, particularly focused on guaranteeing employment stability in the latter. But university graduates need to change their employment expectations too.
Secondly, through macro-economic policies, the government should gradually close the regional development gap to increase the attraction of middle and western regions for university graduates and thus provide a good employment environment for them.
Thirdly, through technological innovation, enterprises should increase their technological standards and raise their requirements for university graduates.
Fourthly, education departments should introduce entrepreneurial business start-up training courses from Western countries into China's standardized national educational system to raise university students' capabilities and encourage them to start their own businesses.
Liao said that to cope with the difficult employment situation, the government is strengthening reform and trying to reduce the negative influence of employment pressures.
(China.org.cn by Li Jingrong, October 13, 2008)