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More College Graduates Put Strain on Job Market
Despite his hard-won master's degree from China's top foreign languages university, Feng Lei is having a hard time finding a job.

Feng Lei, a graduate student majoring in English at the Beijing Foreign Studies University, who is scheduled to graduate in the summer of 2003, began his job hunt in July.

"I thought that I would be able to teach English at prestigious Qinghua University, something which used to be easy for graduates from my university," said Feng, "but now I am beginning to worry about whether or not I will find a job."

After several difficult months, she has lowered her expectations significantly.

The number of college graduates in China has been on the steady rise for the past two years. The year 2003 will see a peak in the number of graduates since Chinese colleges and universities enlarged their enrollment in 1999. Competition in China's job market has become increasingly intense. Most students scheduled to graduate in 2003 began job-hunting several months earlier than those graduating in previous years.

Next year, China will have 2.12 million graduates, 670,000 more than in 2002. In the Chinese capital of Beijing alone, 112,000 college students will graduate in 2003, or 23,000 more than in 2002, and the largest number in history, said Ren Zhanzhong, director of the Beijing Graduate Employment Guide Center.

While job-hunters are more plentiful, the number of vacancies is lower than last year, Ren added.

According to Li Guozhong, director of the Beijing University employment guide center, about 200 employers had come to Beijing University to recruit graduates as of the end of December. This number is about the same as last year's, but the number of posts is less than it was last year, he noted. As a case in point, Northern Jiaotong University received over 200 applications for two 2003 openings.

In the past, the IT industry absorbed a large number of graduates but the industry fell into a slump last year. IT enterprises plan to recruit only one-fifth of the number of Beijing University IT majored graduates that they recruited last year, said Li Guozhong. The Shenzhen Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., which used to employ 100 graduates every year, did not even come to the job fair this year.

Despite the generally tough job market, students with hot majors from prestigious universities are still in great demand. It is relatively easier for students majoring in electronics, architecture, English language, accounting and mechanics to find a job.

To help graduates to cope with the intense competition, the Beijing Graduate Employment Guide Center has set up a more informative website and has begun to provide more specific guidelines for individual students. The browsing frequency of the website has risen from between 10,000 and 20,000 times per day to between 150,000 and 200,000 times per day. The employers registered on the web now top 7,100, with over 5,000 employment offers. Two thousand six hundred students have registered on the web.

The universities' employment centers are also playing an increasingly vital role. Statistics from the nationally renowned Qinghua University employment center indicate that, in 2002, about two thirds of Qinghua graduates found employment through the center.

(Xinhua News Agency December 31, 2002)

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