Almost 30 percent of this year's university graduates had failed to find a job by the end of September, a spokesman for the Ministry of Education said Wednesday.
Five million students graduated this year, but 1.44 million of them are still unemployed, Wang Xuming said.
The number of unemployed graduates has been increasing year by year, according to ministry statistics. In 2001, there were 340,000, last year there were 1.24 million.
For those who have found a job, 40.7 percent work for private or foreign-funded companies, while 0.4 percent had set up their own companies.
"Many university leavers have chosen to work at grassroots level because of government policies such as waiving the debts of graduates willing to work in the country's rural and western regions," Wang said.
Some 580,000 of last year's graduates found county- or village-level jobs, and more than 550,000 secured work in central and western regions.
In the past, few graduates would have welcomed such work.
However, most graduates still prefer jobs in large cities.
A survey by the Democratic League in Beijing of more than 1,200 fresh graduates from 20 universities in the capital found that 92 percent of the native Beijingers did not want to work outside the city.
Sixty-two percent of non-natives also wanted to stay.
Li Shihua, human resources director of an IT company in Beijing, said her company focuses on the character and capabilities of applicants.
"We also consider the brand name of the university, but more important is the ability to solve practical problems," Li said.
A program launched in 1999 aimed at increasing student recruitment has also been blamed for increasing the pressure on the job market. In the first year of the campaign alone, enrollments swelled by 520,000 students nationwide.
"Because many graduates only focus on jobs with high salaries and direct links to their specialties, they miss other good work opportunities," Hong Chengwen, a management professor at Beijing Normal University, said.
"But we need not be too pessimistic over the job situation as more opportunities will be created in the future. Self-employment and the new focus on vocational education should help people find jobs," Hong said.
(China Daily November 1, 2007)