With a looming global financial crisis aggravating the difficulties posed by a fierce job market, many consider the future for the country's fresh college graduates to be bleak.
The number of job hunters from this group entering the market next year is expected to exceed 6 million nationwide, an increase of 7 percent from this year, official figures showed.
"This year, the number of new recruits in the job market has halved and most positions are for experienced applicants only," said Carol Cai, an employee of British market research company TNS.
"Employers always give preference to applicants with some experience so the unemployed possess more advantages than fresh graduates, whose inexperience often works against them in the job search," said Tang Xiaolin, director of the career development center of Fudan University.
It is no longer considered easy for graduates majoring in once-popular fields such as banking, finance, trade and management to land positions, education officials said.
"Companies are still making presentations on campus. However, this is more of self promotion than real recruitment because they have cut their job plans," said Lin Huihui, a graduate who majored in international commerce at Fudan University.
Similarly, many companies are reportedly cutting their payrolls amid the job crunch.
University sources have also attributed the shift by new graduates away from such fields to the financial crisis and credit crunch.
Xiao Jiang, a finance major from Zhejiang University, said he has applied for about 20 positions as a researcher or analyst for multinational companies, nonprofit organizations, private enterprises and associations - whatever options he could think of.
"I didn't think it would take this long," he said. "It's tough just to get an interview.
"I can no longer consider whether my specialty matches my future job. The most important thing is whether I can find a job," Xiao said.
"There is little doubt that the financial crisis has already hurt job growth. The unemployment rate is likely to rise further - and remain high for a considerable period of time after the financial crisis subsides and economic growth resumes," Tang from Fudan University said.
Adding to a shrinking job market for graduates is the competition from their peers returning from studies overseas.
Those studying abroad will most likely return home for jobs because of the tight job market, Tang said.
Faced with such uncertainty, many students have decided that further study for higher degrees would improve their chances of entering the workplace.
"It would only add to fiercer competition in the next few years, when more students graduate," education analyst Lin Yuxuan said. "Graduates should lower their expectations and add experience that will help them become more competitive."
(China Daily October 14, 2008)