November 21st, 2008 | Xinhua Graduates feel pains of global financial crisis
For Jin Zhenghao, this November has been the most stressful month in his 25 years of life.
A financial engineering major at Xiamen University in southeast China’s Fujian Province, Jin is desperately trying to find a job before graduating in June 2009.
November is when the school gave him time to market himself to potential employers. Jin has sent resumes to nearly 30 companies, resulting in five interviews. So far, he has received no job offers.
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Now, Jin is paying 2,000 yuan (US$293) a month to live in Shanghai, the country’s financial hub, in hopes of securing more interviews.
“Companies either have few job vacancies or simply don’t want new people,” Jin told Xinhua over the phone. Only a year ago, he added, graduates like him, would end up with job offers from several well-known international or domestic financial companies before graduation.
“The situation is obviously very bad this year. The financial crisis is a major reason,” said Jin. “I’m really worried.”
Many financial companies, particularly international big names, have cut employees this year due to overseas problems in stock markets.
Jin is not the only one to feel the economic shockwave from the developed world. Thousands of factories which used to manufacture shoes, clothes or toys for export, have been closed or are struggling for survival as foreign orders declined.
This not only means there are more unemployed people, but also fewer opportunities for first-time job seekers.
Deputy Minister of Human Resources and Social Security Zhang Xiaojian said here on Thursday that 6.1 million college and university students will graduate in the first half of next year.
An additional four million college students who graduated in previous years have not found jobs and will also be vying for limited opportunities.
“If companies’ demand for new employees drops significantly, finding a job will definitely become more difficult for college students,” Zhang said.
Professor Yue Changjun, an expert on education and economy at Peking University in Beijing, told China Youth Daily that 67,000 private Chinese companies closed in the first half of this year.
According to Yue, this is a significant figure because private companies employed 34.2 percent of college graduates last year.
“How come I can’t find a job?” a Peking University student, anonymously named “Rebecca ycj”, asked in a message posted on the university’s online forum.
The law student said she applied for jobs at several firms, state-owned enterprises, banks and even a news agency, but every time she was refused.
Research from 51job.com, a popular job-seeking website in China, showed the financial service, real estate, foreign trade and manufacturing industries were the hardest hit sectors as a result of the economic slowdown.
The number of job vacancies in financial services, for example, dropped by 12 percent in the July-November period, compared with the same period of last year.
Zhang said the government, schools and students were moving quickly to try to address the difficulties.
A total of 259 job fairs are currently underway throughout China. Nearly 30,000 enterprises, government organs and public institutions will offer more than 500,000 jobs at those fairs before November 30, said Zhang.
“The major idea is to help college graduates obtain employment information, create more job opportunities and encourage students to work in less developed geographical areas where they are welcomed,” he said.
Prof. Li Daokui of Tsinghua University said because not all sectors are affected by the recession overseas, the prospect of employment isn’t as dire as some people feel.
The government announced a 4 trillion yuan stimulus package to boost the economy and domestic demand.
“As long as China’s economy maintains 9 percent growth, 10 million new jobs can be created every year,” Li said.
Meanwhile, students are encouraged to think more creatively when applying for jobs, for example, they need to lower their salary expectations or consider working in rural instead of urban areas.
In a country with more than 1.3 billion people, college education used to be considered a guarantee for good income, a decent work place and a passport to big cities like Beijing and Shanghai. Things have changed now.
Jin said financial risk management companies and consulting firms were his first choice for work because entry-level income can be at least 7,000 yuan a month.
“Now 5,000 yuan or even lower is acceptable, as long as I work in the financial field,” he said.
The financial crisis has also made government jobs an unexpected favorite among graduates.
A total of 775,000 people applied for a national examination to qualify as government servants. That’s the highest number since 1994 and 130,000 people more than applied last year, said Yang Shiqiu, Deputy Minister of Human Resources and Social Security.
“Only 13,500 persons will be recruited, meaning less than two in every 100 people will succeed,” he said.