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September 8, 2009

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Graduates try hand at business

WITH two days working and five days free every week, Liu Tiancong lives a life her parents could never imagine.

Liu, 23, is satisfied with her job as a private violin teacher in Shenyang, capital of northeastern China's Liao-ning Province.

"I love my students, the income is not bad, and I have plenty of time to tour around," said Liu, who graduated from the Shenyang Conservatory of Music just months ago.

Nowadays many Chinese college graduates choose to start their own businesses or be self-employed, as the job market becomes more stagnant under the influence of the global financial crisis.

China had 5.29 million college graduates in 2008, and about 86 percent of them had found employers at the beginning of 2009.

Flexible employment was seldom heard of a decade ago, when many people at that time preferred an "iron-bowl" job in a country with a history of planned economy.

About 75 percent of China's college graduates are passionate about running their own businesses, despite less than 2 percent actually realizing their dreams, according to a survey commissioned by the Ministry of Education covering nearly 16,000 students in 117 colleges nationwide.

To Liu's surprise, her parents supported her choice of ending a job at a musical instrument shop in Beijing and working as a private teacher back in Shenyang.

"They had been laid off from state-owned enterprises, so they don't think it is that important to have a permanent job," she said.

In 2003, the government encouraged that year's more than 2 million graduates to become employed "in flexible ways" by opening their own businesses if necessary.

Among the 94,000 college graduates in Shenyang this year, 17 percent, or 15,991, had flexible employment, compared with only 2,000 flexible employees four years ago, according to the Shen-yang Municipal Bureau of Personnel.

"Every college graduate used to be given a job, but it is no longer the case," said Liu Hongwei, an associate professor of Luxun Academy of Fine Arts in Shenyang.


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