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Job Prospects for This Year’s College Grads

An estimated 1.23 million students will graduate in 2002 from colleges and universities in China -- around 9.4 percent more than that of last year. While China’s entry into the World Trade Organization is expected to create more opportunities for jobs, the overall employment situation is clouded by several forces.

First, there is an imbalance in the supply and demand of graduates depending on their record and major. Students’ high expectations can also play a negative role in their finding suitable employment. Also, in 2002 the supply of labor force will reach a new peak. Keen competition in the labor market is expected to add more pressure to this year’s graduates.

Obviously, China’s accession into the WTO will create more employment opportunities for graduating students. Encouraged by China’s further opening-up, more multinational corporations are expected to enter the Chinese market. Consequently, hiring Chinese graduates will become these corporations’ first preference to help them quickly and easily adapt to China’s actual conditions. Meanwhile, as Li Yining, the Peking University economist, points out, “After acceding to the WTO, China is about to face an all-round talent crisis.” Therefore, Chinese companies are eager to hire more graduates to be better prepared for the stiff market competition. Finally, WTO entry will bring more overseas investment, which can directly stimulate the GDP growth and in turn create more employment opportunities.

However, as the result of the WTO entry, the employment market will make a higher demand as to the qualities and abilities of graduating students. A more internationalized China calls for “internationalized talents.” This is a comment from Professor Zhang Hanlin, deputy chief of the WTO Research Center at the University of International Business and Economics, who said that along with China’s entry into the WTO, young people under the age of 30 need to educate themselves as versatile talents to meet new challenges.

“This is a basic demand of the internationalization of economy and society,” Zhang wrote.

According to Gao Jianxun, chief of the Center of Employment Services for Graduates at Wuhan Scientific and Technological College, graduating students need to make appropriate preparations to better adapt to the new situation, such as:

  • Ability preparations. This includes the accumulation of all kinds of knowledge, improvement in computer and foreign language competence as well as organizational skills, development of the capacity to work and live independently, to cooperate harmoniously with colleagues, and to innovate in their fields.

  • Psychological preparations. This means that graduates need to heighten their awareness of competition, enhance their psychological ability to sustain frustrations and defeats, and get ready to work in harsh environments other than big cities or developed coastal areas.

  • Goal preparations. This refers to the need to set reasonable and realistic professional aims based on a comprehensive analysis of their own subjects, personal competence and interests as well as the needs of society.

  • Corresponding material preparations, including data, information and funding preparations.

    China Youth on September 25, 2001 reported that in the future the employment market for graduates will present the following ten trends:

  • Career prospects for students in information subjects like computer science, communications and electronics are still positive, but the once overheated market for graduates in these fields is expected to cool down.

  • High risks accompany highly rewarding areas like banking, economy, politics and law.

  • Bio-science may emerge as a new field to attract more and more job-seekers.

  • The social demand for students majoring in environmental science, building and construction, administration and foreign languages is predicted to increase greatly.

  • The supply and demand will remain stable for students in engineering in most fields

  • Graduates majoring at literature, history and philosophy will face great challenges.

  • Graduates majoring at mathematics, physics and chemistry will become popular again.

  • The downturn in demand for students of agriculture and forestry will quickly reverse itself.

  • The demand for students from the medical and normal schools will decline.

  • Rather than limiting themselves within their own areas in which few opportunities are offered, students of the arts need to apply their learned skills to more popular fields.

    To better coordinate and guide graduates’ employment, according to “the Report on Circumstances of Job-seeking and Employment of Graduates in China,” reforms in the educational and employment systems for graduating students should look to the following goals:

  • Increasing communication between schools and society, reinforcing information construction, and furthering the leading role of schools in guiding graduates’ employment.

  • Helping students set up an appropriate understanding of employment.

  • Promoting reform in teaching methods, readjusting students’ knowledge structure, and developing students’ capabilities in innovation, communication and adaptability.

    (中国青年研究 [China Youth Study] No.1, 2002, translated by Shao Da for china.org.cn, March 22, 2002)

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