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China Daily Website

Uncertainty dogs grads' job prospects

Updated: 2013-07-30 09:41
By Gao Zhuyuan ( China Daily)

This year is said to be the most difficult for college graduates to find a job, especially because of the record number of fresh graduates entering the tough job market.

No broad-based statistics are available, but according to the annual survey of Chinese education consulting company MyCOS, by April, only 26 percent of postgraduate and 35 percent of undergraduate students had secured a job, down 11 and 12 percentage points year-on-year. Latest data from colleges and education authorities are as good as ever but their credibility has been questioned as before because of the problems in the calculation process.

A third-party report on employment pressure shows that college graduates have lowered their salary expectation from about 5,500 yuan ($897) a month in 2011 to about 3,700 yuan. Some news reports, however, say many of them are ready to accept even lower salaries to get a job.

Many Westerners think that Chinese graduates seem to be unduly worried about getting a job when their Western counterparts are suffering because of the slowdown in their economies. The plight of recent Chinese graduates may have been overplayed, to a certain extent, by the mass media, but they certainly have enough reasons to do so.

For decades, college students in China had been assigned jobs upon graduation. The process originated in the planned economy days, and job hunting was not a matter of concern for graduates until the 1990s, when graduates were encouraged to seek employment on their own, which was followed by the increasing number of enrolments in colleges.

Job hunting has become a serious job in itself given the surge in the number of graduates, from only 1.07 million in 2000 to 6.99 million this year. The development has also eroded the value of holding a college degree. With degree holders accounting for a larger share of the population, graduates believe that the job market has got harsher for them.

The reality is that the going has been tough for fresh graduates for the past few years as a result of the imbalance between supply and demand of college graduates, as well as the disconnect between employers' demand and the skills and knowledge they can bring to their jobs. This year is deemed "most difficult" for graduates mostly because the magnitude of the problem has been compounded by the obvious signs of economic slowdown in the country.

China demonstrated remarkable resilience amid the worldwide slump when the global financial crisis hit the industrialized economies in 2008. But no economy can stay immune to the consequences of financial turmoil even in one region in today's globalized world. The external jitters have taken a toll on China's export-driven growth and subsequently its labor market. And the macroeconomic situation has exacerbated fresh graduates' job hunting woes.

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