Chinese College Graduates in City Career Imbalance

April 17, 2006 12:00 am Last Updated: April 17, 2006 12:00 am

In recent years, a growing number of college graduates from midwest China have been moving into Beijing and other large cities near the southeast coast. This trend, driven by a strong desire for the city life, has further exacerbated the already existing imbalance in the job market. Experts urge recent graduates not to desire the glamorous city life when choosing a job.

According to Southern Weekend, the saying “a bed in Beijing is better than an apartment set in western grass roots' has become the general motto amongst Beijing college students when it comes to job selection. One of the personnel at the Career Center of Central University for Nationalities said that 73 percent of last year's graduates found jobs in Beijing, too large a percentage for one city. “It's very easy for students like ours to find a good job in the capital cities of other provinces. However, they are so reluctant to leave Beijing.”

The total number of college graduates in 2005 and 2006 have increased to 3.3 million and 4.13 million, 3 times and 4 times greater than those of 2001. According to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)'s official data, an investigation conducted by the Human Resource Department shows that Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen alone have attracted 10.9 percent of college graduates from the 15 sampled provinces and cities. Some even believe that at least half of the college graduates have been attracted to Beijing and southeastern coastal areas in recent years.

As the number of graduates increases, this career scramble gets more complicated. A new “blind influx” group of job-seeking college graduates is emerging.

Liangkui Hu is a college graduate majoring in advertising, and is a former vice president of the student association of the School of Arts and Communication at Anhui Economic and Finance University. Now Hu works as a warehouse guard for a shoe factory in Nanhai District, Foshan City, Guangdong province, at a monthly salary of 800 yuan. This artistic college graduate mocked himself, “I have the highest education level in our factory. I wonder if I'm the first one in China (who has fallen into this situation).”

To find a job, Lianghui Hu moved to a ten-yuan-per-night (US$ 1.2) hotel near the job market on North Baoan Road, Shenzhen City. Only when he moved there did Hu realize that he, like many other college graduates, had fallen into the new category of “blind influx” job seekers.

“The streets near the job market and the 10-Yuan hotel are full of gloomy college graduates, packages on their backs, maps in hand.” Hu lived in a small room crowded with 14 people, air stinking with foot odor. The shabby building of the hotel held several hundred recent graduates eager to try their luck in Shenzhen City.

In Shanghai, over 100 graduates from other places gathered in Lujiazui, a most prosperous area in Pudong. They live in rooms on the 12th floor of an old building which has a fashionable name: “Job-seeking Village”. People living here have stayed anywhere from several days to one or two years. They eat fried rice that costs three yuan ($US 0.4), and sleep on 15-yuan-per-night bed boards; they go out early looking decent, and come back late exhausted; they have to share a water heater with scores of other people, or even sleep on a piece of door wood.

In these graduates' minds, big cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou or Shenzhen always mean opportunity, high income and promising future. This 'blind influx' trend has certainly worsened the imbalance in the job market. Big cities' job markets overflow with college graduates, while few graduates consider finding jobs in the places where they are needed most. Experts have therefore appealed to the students to change their desire for the city life when finding employment.