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March 22, 2010

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Su has the hardest job ... finding one

SU Zhibo, a Fujian Province native, came to Shanghai two weeks ago with the dream of earning a living in the city, only to find many obstacles in front of him.

"It's hard to find a job," said the 23-year-old, who will graduate from Yang'en University in Fujian's Quanzhou City this summer.

With the economy recovering, a number of industry surveys indicated that this year should be a good one for graduates seeking work. But Su and many young people like him are finding otherwise. The job market they're experiencing is grim and crowded.

Yu Faming, an official with Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, said some 24 million people would be seeking jobs throughout the country, but only half of them would be able to gain employment.

Around 6.5 million students like Su will graduate from universities and colleges in China this year, 400,000 more than last year. They'll be joining nearly 3 million people who left universities in earlier years but are still out of work.

"Employers prefer to hire experienced people not fresh graduates like me," said Su, who went to three or four job interviews in Shanghai but without success.

Su has sent out at least 200 resumes, both online and at job fairs.

At the first job fairs after the Spring Festival holiday, more than half of the employers were offering marketing and sales jobs.

Companies were employing more people but favoring people with work experience.

Only 9.5 percent of companies increased the number of posts offered to graduates this year, according to a survey by CIIC HR Management Consulting Co, a human resources firm. And more than a third of the posts offered to fresh graduates were assistant-level jobs.

With a major in international trade, Su would prefer a post in marketing or sales. "I can expect a monthly income of 2,000 yuan (US$293)," Su said, wondering if such a salary would cover his living costs in expensive Shanghai.

He said he had already spent 2,000 yuan since arriving in the city, despite staying at a hotel that costs only 22 yuan a night.

The hotel, Zhida, specializes in offering rooms to job hunters with college educations. It has more than 200 youths staying at present. Zhou Du, the manager, said eight branches of the hotel across the city had an average occupancy rate of more than 80 percent, with some having no vacancies.

Zhang Wufeng, 23, lives in the same hotel as Su. A graduate from Qiqihar Medical University in Heilongjiang Province in 2008, the Hubei native came to Shanghai at the beginning of this month.

Unlike Su, who has a backup plan - going back to work in Quanzhou where he can find a job through family connections - Zhang has to support himself by working in Shanghai.

Zhang said most of his university classmates work in big cities such as Beijing and Shenzhen, and he shares the same dream: to work and live in a large, modern city.

But now he's just beginning to realize how difficult it is to find a job here.

Although Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou are offering the most jobs this year, that's just 32 percent of all vacancies available nationwide, compared with 44 percent last year, according to posts released by 51job, a Nasdaq-listed human resources provider.

Second-tier cities such as Hongzhou, Wuhan, Shenyang and Chengdu may be a better bet. More and more companies there are expanding their production, sales and services, which should translate into better posts and salaries in those places, said Feng Lijuan, chief HR analyst of 51job.

At the annual meeting of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Cheng Tianquan, Party director of Renmin University, said graduates should give up their big city ambitions and work in inland areas instead.

Guo Guoqing, a professor with the Renmin University and also a member of the CPPCC, attributed the difficulties graduates face to a mismatch between what universities teach and what companies are looking for.


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