Amid China boom, job search for many grads goes bust

Sep 13, 2011, 7:15 p.m.
Students attend their college graduation ceremony in Shanghai's Fudan University July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

But he now has a job offer on the table from a company, which he says will pay about 7,500 yuan a month. It is a golden ticket by most measures -- one that would put him squarely within the top four percent of recent graduate wage earners. Still he is not sanguine about the process.

"Getting that internship is easy, but turning it into a job is hard. It felt like most of the people I was competing with had PhDs," he said.

Even China's top students have to make tough choices given broader social dynamics in China, broad enough that foreign firms aren't the magnets they used to be.

Government agencies and state-owned enterprises accounted for nearly a third (32 percent) of jobs for Chinese graduates in 2010. Among four-year degree graduates, that number is 41 percent, the CASS study said.

Jin, an international relations graduate from the elite Tsinghua University who asked that only her surname be used, turned down higher-salary prospects at a foreign company for a spot at a state-owned enterprise in the transportation sector.

"The salary definitely won't be as high as at a foreign company. It's not my ideal job, but from a long-term perspective taking this job was a good choice," Jin said.

The highlight of that offer: promise of a Beijing resident permit, called a "hukou" in Chinese. With hukou quotas set for government agencies and state-owned companies, landing that kind of job can mean opening the door to social privileges.

"If you're living in Beijing without a hukou, it is hard to buy a house and impossible to get a car," she said. "If I plan to stay in Beijing, the next two years at this job would remove a lot of obstacles for me."

(Additional reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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