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March 19, 2010

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Spooked grads flee death-industry jobs

ONLY 100 out of 3,000 college students who applied for funeral industry jobs last year are staying in the field, just eight months after enthusiastically starting their jobs last year.

The students left for a range of reasons, including strong family opposition or better-paid jobs elsewhere. Those who stayed did so because of appreciation and deep love of the funeral industry, said the Shanghai Funeral and Interment Trade Association yesterday.

The 3,000 students went through interviews and started training, and by December only 108 students were left. Since then, another eight quit.

Most of the 100 who are working in the field are sales clerks for funeral parlors and cemeteries, or doing funeral planning. Only six touch a corpse in daily work.

Officials said most students pulled out during the training, as they were scared by the corpses when they visited funeral parlors, and others were able to have a try in other industry.

But there were exceptions. Li Fanghua, a Shanghai Business School graduate majoring in Internet management, is now working as a makeup worker for the Yishan Funeral Parlor, as she always wanted to be.

"When I applied for the job, makeup worker was my only target," she said. "And now my wish is fulfilled."

Xie Hongxia, an association official, said he wasn't surprised by her ardor.

"In fact we are always expecting that people with high-education background to join us," Xie said. "But we know that people's stereotype on the industry is not easy to be removed."

To avoid the same high dropout rate, the city will hold a funeral industry job fair especially for military veterans on Saturday, expecting that veterans will be more persevering, the association said yesterday.

Officials said that 131 jobs provided by 17 funeral parlors and cemeteries will be available - mainly receptionists, drivers, sales and security guards.

"The army's forging makes them stronger both physically and mentally than common people," said Wang Hongjie, director of the association. "We hope that their good quality will help us."


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