The economic downturn in China has not only hit millions of migrant workers, who are finding it difficult to get jobs in factories or on building sites; many young college graduates are also badly affected. Some six million young people will graduate from colleges and universities this June -- but their prospects of finding well-paid jobs are low.
Chinese graduates are struggling to find jobs amid global financial crisis
A graduate job fair in Eastern Beijing: Tens of thousands of students crowd the vast halls of this exhibition centre near the third ring road.
Most of them arrived early, armed with their CVs and dressed in their smartest suits to meet prospective employers.
Some 700 companies have set up stalls at the fair. But some of the big firms that always used to be present at such events have not bothered to show up this year -- there are simply no vacancies.
Employers only looking for experience
For many students, such as the 23-year-old Lu Fei, doing the rounds at the fair is an exhausting experience. “I’ve already applied to many companies,” he says. “But if they have vacancies at all they want people with several years of experience. For new graduates like us the requirements are too high.”
Lu studied at a good university in Beijing -- this was once an entry ticket to a secure and well-paid job. Now, with Chinese exports falling and the real estate bubble bursting, prospects are grim. Lu has already lowered his expectations. With a degree in Chinese literature, he’s applying for jobs as an office clerk.
“I am worried about the future. Nevertheless, I believe that with some perseverance I can find at least a temporary job,” he says.
Clear preferences stated in job descriptions
Some Chinese job descriptions are brutally blunt. Companies often state clear preferences for either men or women. Applicants have to be a certain age and sometimes they even have to have a certain minimum height.
Initial interviews are conducted at the fair and on the spot, with people pushing and shoving right behind the candidates.
These interviews are usually just the first step. A lucky few will be invited to a second interview later.
Restaurant chains expanding
Young people have ambushed one stall, which was set up by a restaurant chain. The company is one of just a handful, which is still hiring on a greater scale, says human resources manager Liu Xiao Dong.
“We have about 100 vacancies because we are planning to expand. For that we need people on stand-by. On the first day of the fair we already collected several hundred application forms.”
Some six million students will graduate this summer. They will compete for jobs with 1.5 million graduates from last year who have still not found work.
Government worried about growing discontent
The government is worried about growing discontent among students. It has promised to organise more job fairs like the one in Beijing.
21-year old Wang Na from Hebei says that unemployment and the prospect of finding jobs are the main topic of conversation among her friends. She does not have high expectations. “I just want to find a job and the pay does not have to be very high -- 1,500 yuan would be enough.”
1,500 yuan, or 170 euros, is what some migrant workers make on Beijing building sites but “you cannot aim high anymore”, says Wang.
At the bottom of her CV, she’s added an extra line saying that she would even be willing to work for no pay at all.