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May 14, 2013

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Universities offering cash to students who find a job

SHANGHAI'S universities are offering a variety of incentives such as subsidies for students willing to return to their hometowns to work amid a tough job market. This is meant to ensure a steady enrollment next year by pumping up the proportion of graduating students finding jobs.

Some schools say they will offer career training programs, including communication skills, to the students who failed to land a job.

Around 44 percent of 178,000 senior students at local universities and colleges had secured a job as of last week, 2 percentage points down from last year, the Shanghai Education Commission said yesterday.

The calculation excluded those who had been admitted to postgraduate studies, decided to study abroad or who were starting up their own businesses.

The rate of postgraduates and students with a bachelor's degree who had accepted offers fell 2.2 percent and 4 percent respectively, while junior college students, those finishing two or three-year programs, saw a rise of 1.2 percent, the commission said.

The city's universities said they were taking various measures to weather the negative impact.

Shanghai Dianji University is offering a transportation subsidy of up to 1,500 yuan (US$242) and a minimum 800 yuan each to senior students from outside the city who were willing to return to their hometown to work.

A 1,500 yuan subsidy is also offered to students setting up their own businesses. Incentives will also be offered to students admitted to postgraduate studies, the university said.

"It is the first time that we offer such subsidy in our history due to the poor employment prospects this year," said Yao Weichun, deputy director of the university's student affairs office. He said there had been a 6 percent drop in the number of students graduating with a bachelor's degree who had secured a job compared to last year.

Shanghai University said it had launched a training camp for students who had difficulty in finding a job to improve their competence and had talked to some parents who had extremely high demands for their children's employment and who had intervened in their children's choices and job applications.

Encouraging students to work in other cities and exploring more job opportunities in other provinces were also measures to boost the employment rate, said Wang Peihua, a faculty member responsible for graduate recruitment.

Jin Xiaofeng, director of student affairs at Shanghai Second Polytechnic University, blamed some parents for spoiling their children, giving an example of one parent who accompanied a student to job fairs and stayed throughout the application process.

Li Ruiyang, deputy director of the education commission, attributed the lack of employment prospects to the economic slowdown and transition, meaning the number of available positions had declined from the past two years particularly in the social service and manufacturing industries and private companies, and a gap between students' expectations and what companies were looking for. Some university majors do not meet market demand, and some parents are just happy to have their spoiled children stay home jobless.

Among the 178,000 senior students, about 130,000 hoped to find a job and 100,000 of them intended to work in Shanghai, the commission said. About half of the 100,000 had signed an offer.

However, there are 152,000 vacancies targeting graduates provided by local companies this year, meaning there is a mismatch of jobs available and students' expectations, the commission said.

"Those who study in Shanghai have higher expectation of pay compared with those who study at other Chinese cities due to the higher living cost in the city, while the salaries provided by companies vary, and there is also a gap of the requirement of companies and students' adaptability," said Wang Xiping, director of the commission's student division.

Ding Yuqing, deputy secretary of the human resources department at Shanghai Electric Power Generation Group, said the company were planning to recruit graduates from other cities partly because of local students' high expectations.

"Due to the requirement of different positions, local universities could not provide enough students who meet requirements, and some local students have higher expectations than those from other cities," he said.

Nima Lamao, a Qinghai Province student at Shanghai Jiguang Polytechnic College majoring in accounting, has decided to return to his hometown to work after graduation. "I hope to make contributions to my hometown, anyway finding a job here is not easy."


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