Worst Youth Job Market; Chinese Switch Jobs in Bid for Better income

Worst Youth Job Market; Chinese Switch Jobs in Bid for Better income

BEIJING -Liang Huaxiao, a recent graduate in applied mathematics, struggled to secure employment with China's prominent technology companies for a period of two years. Undeterred, she explored opportunities in customer service, sales, and even applied for assistant positions in a bakery and a beauty parlour. Unfortunately, like many of her well-educated peers, Liang found herself constantly downgrading her job aspirations due to the unprecedentedly challenging youth job market in China.

Expressing the difficulties she faced, the 25-year-old, who resides with her parents in the industrial city of Taiyuan, revealed the emotional toll of her job search. She explained that she even offered to engage in manual labor, which deeply affected her mother, who felt immense sympathy for her situation.

In the upcoming years, economists anticipate a rise in similar instances, as the job market in China grapples with an oversupply of university graduates and a scarcity of labor in the manufacturing sector due to an aging workforce. These imbalances are expected to exacerbate the situation.

In April, youth unemployment reached a record high of 20.4%, while this summer will see a new peak of 11.58 million university students graduating and entering the job market. They will all be vying for employment opportunities in one of the world's fastest-growing major economies. However, the structure of the Chinese economy, which is heavily reliant on manufacturing, is increasingly mismatched with the aspirations of the younger generations.

Graduates are increasingly taking up lower-skilled jobs below their qualifications due to a lack of suitable opportunities in industries such as tech, education, real estate, and finance, which have faced regulatory crackdowns. The mismatch between graduates' expectations and the economic circumstances of the country has led to frustration and difficulty in finding suitable employment.

The Chinese government has taken steps to address the issue by encouraging state-owned enterprises to hire more graduates and expanding vocational training programs. However, the service industries driving the post-pandemic recovery offer limited high-skilled roles, resulting in graduates pursuing alternative paths or settling for lower-paying jobs.

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