FILE PHOTO: Graduating students attend a commencement ceremony at Chongqing University of Posts and Telecommunications
FILE PHOTO: Graduating students wearing face masks attend a commencement ceremony at Chongqing University of Posts and Telecommunications in Chongqing, China June 22, 2022. Cnsphoto via REUTERS Photo: Reuters/STRINGER
business

Record numbers of Chinese graduates enter worst job market in decades

11 Comments
By Martin Quin Pollard

Jenny Bai was among 10 high-performing computer science students from different Chinese universities selected by a Beijing-based internet firm for a job upon graduation, following four rounds of arduous interviews.

But last month, the company told the students their contract offers were cancelled due to COVID-19 headwinds and the bad state of the economy in general - obstacles facing a record 10.8 million Chinese university graduates this summer.

"I'm worried," said Bai, who graduated this month and did not want to name the firm to stay on good terms. "If I can't find a job, I'm not sure what I'll do."

China's COVID restrictions have battered an economy already slowing due to a property market downturn, geopolitical worries and regulatory crackdowns on tech, education, and other sectors.

A cohort of graduates larger than the entire population of Portugal is about to enter one of China's worst job markets in decades at a time when youth unemployment is already more than three times China's overall joblessness rate, at a record 18.4%.

There is no script for how such high youth unemployment will affect Chinese society.

Struggling to find jobs goes against what educated young people have come to expect after decades of breakneck growth, and is awkward for China's stability-obsessed Communist Party, especially in a year when President Xi Jinping is expected to secure a precedent-breaking third leadership term.

"The social contract between the government and the people was you stay out of politics and we will guarantee that every year you'll do better than last year," said Michael Pettis, Professor of Finance at Peking University.

"So the concern is that once that guarantee breaks apart, what else has to change?"

Premier Li Keqiang has said stabilising the job market for graduates is a top government priority. Companies granting internship posts to new graduates will receive subsidies, on top of other perks aimed at boosting employment in general.

Some regional governments have offered cheap loans to graduates looking to launch their own businesses. State-backed firms are expected to pick up some of the slack in private sector entry-level jobs.

Rockee Zhang, Managing Director for Greater China at recruitment firm Randstad, says China's entry-level jobs market was worse even than during the 2008-09 global financial crisis, estimating new jobs falling 20-30% from last year.

"This year is a low point, the lowest I’ve seen," said Zhang, who has been a recruiter for two decades.

Expected salaries are also 6.2% lower, according to Zhilian Zhaopin, another recruitment firm.

China's Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and the Ministry of Education did not respond to requests for comment.

The tech sector has been a significant employer of many Chinese graduates, but this year the industry is trimming its workforce, recruiters say.

A regulatory crackdown prompted many of China's tech giants including Tencent and Alibaba to make massive job cuts. A combined total of tens of thousands have lost their jobs in the sector this year, five tech industry sources told Reuters. Job cuts varied between China's roughly 10 biggest tech companies varied but averaged at about 10%, according to a report published in April by Shanghai-based Talent Assessment and Management Consulting group NormStar.

The companies did not respond to requests for comment.

In April, a nine-month freeze on online gaming licenses over violent content and other issues was lifted, during which time 14,000 firms in the industry shut.

Private education, another sector which drew regulatory scrutiny, parted with tens of thousands of workers as well. The largest firm in the industry, New Oriental, has announced 60,000 layoffs.

New hiring is slow. A human resources manager at a Tencent business unit, who asked not to be named as they were not allowed to speak to the media, said they were looking to hire "a few dozen" new graduates, compared with about 200 a year previously.

“Internet companies have cut tonnes of jobs," said Julia Zhu of recruitment firm Robert Walters. "If they have the financial resources to bring people in they are now opting for more experienced candidates rather than fresh graduates."

Jason Wang, a Beijing-based headhunter who has worked mostly with tech companies in recent years, is now recruiting mainly for state-backed telecommunication firms.

"The golden age of internet companies’ hiring sprees has ended," Wang said.

In China, being jobless for some time after graduation is typically frowned upon by employers. Many families see it as a humiliation rather than bad luck with the economy.

Taking blue-collar jobs after getting a university degree also often draws disapproval, so to avoid long gaps in their CVs, record numbers are applying for post-graduate studies, official data show.

Vicente Yu graduated in 2021 but has been unemployed since losing his job at a media company late last year. His savings will cover another month or two of rent and basic expenses in the southern city of Guangzhou.

"My dad said you should never come home again, he said he should have raised a dog instead of me," said the 21-year-old, who has been struggling with anxiety and sleep problems.

He spends his nights on social media platforms, where he finds other young people in similar situations.

"I look at all those people who are like me, who couldn't find a job, and get some solace from it."

© Thomson Reuters 2022.

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.


11 Comments
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China like Russia won’t cooperate with the globalists agenda for global governance so she is now being isolated/targeted to make her inconsequential. George Soros took all his billions in investments from China. Manufacturing firms are closing shop and companies are fleeing because of power outages. Power plants in China are mostly coal powered and coals are imported from Australia that is presently fighting a trade war against China.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I'd never wish anything bad for normal Chinese. Hopefully, they will find rewarding work, so they can have the pride of earning a paycheck and supporting themselves and extended family with work that is useful to society.

If China integrated into the rest of the world a bit more, like taking down their firewall and ending govt censorship, much would change for the better. But that would take a change to the Chinese Constitution to be effective and the current leaders would never allow that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A cohort of graduates larger than the entire population of Portugal is about to enter one of China's worst job markets in decades at a time when youth unemployment is already more than three times China's overall joblessness rate, at a record 18.4%.

The youth got betrayed by their government and the control it has over the population will make their only option to just accept it. The pandemic is of course one important cause of the unemployment, but the lack of an exit strategy for China will only mean that the situation is going to remain as now or maybe even worse from now on.

The culture will make this specially though for the unemployed, too bad that the current government don't seem to care too much about it.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

A cohort of graduates larger than the entire population of Portugal is about to enter one of China's worst job markets in decades at a time when youth unemployment is already more than three times China's overall joblessness rate, at a record 18.4%.

In the UK, the youth unemployment rate is still 10.4%. Unemployment rate for 16-17 year olds in March 2021 was  35.5 percent, with the recent rate for that group still at 22.4%.

And UK's GDP growth is approximately 8.4%---the same as China's.

So, no matter how the media tries to portray Chin in a negative light, the reality is, other countries are experiencing similar or worst economic conditions.

In the end though, China will continue to move forward as an economic power.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

So, no matter how the media tries to portray Chin in a negative light, the reality is, other countries are experiencing similar or worst economic conditions.

And other countries much better economic conditions, without any significant disadvantage because of it. And even on those countries that are in difficult situation the population at least still have enough human rights to protest and replace their goverments because of it. That option is no longer available in China.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Power plants in China are mostly coal powered and coals are imported from Australia that is presently fighting a trade war against China.

China produces over 90% of the coal it requires for power production. It is not currently accepting loads of coal from Australia. It doesn't need it. It really doesn't. The little extra coal China needs to import beyond what it produces domestically it imports from South Africa mostly. Coal fired power plants produce about 57% of China's total energy needs, down from 70% a decade ago.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

So, no matter how the media tries to portray Chin in a negative light, the reality is, other countries are experiencing similar or worst economic conditions.

Not to put too find a point on it but comparing the unemployment rates of 16-17 year olds or that of "youth" however that is defined to that of college grads expecting to be hired after sweating bullets for years studying is not very bright, don't you think? They are too completely different job markets with different expectations.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Desert TortoiseToday  01:10 pm JST

Not to put too find a point on it but comparing the unemployment rates of 16-17 year olds or that of "youth" however that is defined to that of college grads expecting to be hired after sweating bullets for years studying is not very bright, don't you think?

No, so why are you comparing them? Because I wasn't.

Because you didn't read and comprehend the entire comment, you missed the point. Not too bright eh?

If you had resisted making a knee-jerk comment, you would see I was comparing a segment of UK demographics of last year with this years of that in the UK. Novel concept huh?

UK college graduates in 2021 had an unemployment rate of about 12%; not too far off from China's 18.4% this year. Anyone make a big deal about that?

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-03-08/pandemic-leaves-one-in-eight-recent-u-k-graduates-unemployed

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

No, so why are you comparing them? Because I wasn't.

Because that is exactly what you did. Here is what you wrote, word for word.

A cohort of graduates larger than the entire population of Portugal is about to enter one of China's worst job markets in decades at a time when youth unemployment is already more than three times China's overall joblessness rate, at a record 18.4%.

In the UK, the youth unemployment rate is still 10.4%. Unemployment rate for 16-17 year olds in March 2021 was 35.5 percent, with the recent rate for that group still at 22.4%.

You exactly compared the rate of Chinese college graduates unable to find work to the unemployment rates of UK youth and UK 16-17 year olds. Nowhere in your post did you mention the unemployment rate of recent college graduates in the UK.

>

3 ( +3 / -0 )

> UK college graduates in 2021 had an unemployment rate of about 12%; not too far off from China's 18.4% this year. Anyone make a big deal about that?

It’s a major difference!

And very far off!

Give me a return of 6.4% on my investment and I’ll put up hundreds of thousands of US dollars

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Desert TortoiseToday  04:15 am JST

You exactly compared the rate of Chinese college graduates unable to find work to the unemployment rates of UK youth and UK 16-17 year olds. Nowhere in your post did you mention the unemployment rate of recent college graduates in the UK.

You misread again.

Just mentioning facts doesn't make a comparison.

You're trying to turn the facts into the argument that you want to make, not the one that is actually being made.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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