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Tough Employment Fight Ahead for Graduates

November is typically "hunting season" for enterprises looking to recruit university graduates, with many companies giving career talks in colleges and putting posters up around campuses. The year 2006 will be no different with an estimated 7.5 million graduates expected to battle for a place on the workforce.


Recent employment trends


Several surveys conducted by the country's leading newspapers might be a good indication of current employment trends. The following are some of the key findings of these surveys.


Work over Masters degree


A survey conducted and published by People's Daily showed that most graduates would rather join the workforce than pursue a postgraduate qualification. The survey focused on the employment hopes and aspirations of university graduates in Beijing. About 67 percent of undergraduates surveyed said they would work after graduation, compared with 16 percent who would pursue a postgraduate qualification. Only 5.3 percent said they would continue their studies abroad.


National statistics show that 208,000 people enrolled for Masters entrance examinations in 2005, representing a rise of 21.6 percent over 2004 and three times that in 2000.


The results of this survey seem to indicate a downward trend. However, Ren Zhanzhong, head of the Employment Guidance Center for University Graduates, Beijing Municipal Education Commission (BMCE), thinks these survey results do not necessarily reflect the latest employment trends. He said that much depends on actual figures for Masters exam registration in 2006.


Employment pressures


It is estimated that in 2006, about 3.5 million university graduates, and 4 million technical, vocational and skills-training graduates will join the workforce. This would mean increased pressures on the government to find them jobs.


The BMCE recently released the 2005 figures for employment rate of Beijing's university graduates. On July 7, the initial take-up rate was 89.3 percent. Quite a number of the remaining would rather wait for more appropriate opportunities than to take the first job that comes along.


Aiming for the big cities


A majority of students want jobs in big cities. Another survey reported by the Beijing Morning Post showed that 63.6 percent of students choose to work in Beijing, Shanghai and other big cities. Only 7.3 percent said they would consider working in central and western parts of China.


Jia Huaiyi, head of the Enrollment and Employment Department at Beijing Jiaotong University said that big cities offer more opportunities for personal development, but its employment capacity is limited, and competition is keen. A graduate should be aware of this when making his decision.


Government departments the top choice


The Beijing Morning Post survey also shows that of the 7,419 people surveyed, 37.6 percent hope to find employment with government departments. Private, foreign and big-size state enterprises ranked second, third and fourth respectively. Only 7.4 percent of the students surveyed said they would start their own businesses.


The findings indicate that many graduates might be disappointed as far as securing a job is concerned. In Beijing alone, there will be an estimated 180,000 graduates next year looking for work. Central government departments need only 10,000 people, and the Beijing municipal government needs only a few thousand.


What job?


The survey also shows that 48.7 percent of those surveyed believe that their majors have little to do with looking for a job; 34 percent think potential employers pay more attention to a person's overall skills and qualities than a college major.


No high expectations for monthly wages


An online study undertaken by Beijing Morning Post revealed that of the 2,679 university students surveyed, 1,112 of them expected starting salaries of between 2,000 yuan (US$247) and 2,999 yuan (US$371); 929 said between 1,000 yuan (US$124) and 1,999 yuan (US$247); 61 said less than 1,000 yuan. Only 577 (or about 20 percent) said they expected more than 3,000 yuan a month.


An undergraduate surnamed Luo from Renmin University of China said she wants a monthly salary of between 2,000 yuan and 3,000 yuan. "I think this is a realistic expectation given the competition for jobs," Luo said.


Recruitment drives


The Ministry of Education set November 20 as the day for enterprises to visit universities on their recruitment drives. But many companies started their recruitment drives much earlier, whether through the Internet or campus advertising.


Companies such as Microsoft, Baidu and Lenovo and others that are willing to go the extra mile to hire the cream of China's university crop have posted advertisements on the websites of Shanghai's Fudan University and Jiaotong University. They've also held online recruitment conferences.


To make things a little easier


Group referrals


Schools are planning on making group referrals or recommendations directly to companies. A total of 180 universities will make available the information relating to 300,000 graduates.


Work placements


Some universities are planning to cooperate with companies to set up training bases on campus to prepare students for future employment with the companies. Excellent students might even have a chance at securing a job before graduation.


(China.org.cn by Zhou Jing, November 7, 2005)

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