China’s college graduates are facing a more challenging labor market, and declining average monthly salary, according to Zhaopin Limited’s report on its 2017 career survey of college graduates in China.
China will have a record of 7.95 million graduating students joining the labor force this year. Zhaopin conducted its 2017 survey of college graduates to analyze their employability, based on their perceptions of the labor market, job-hunting efforts and results.
About 93,420 college graduates participated in the survey this year, including junior college graduates, undergraduates and graduate students.
Strong overall market
There are signs that the overall labour is showing signs of strengthening in line with overall economy gaining momentum. This has been evidenced by the CIER index compiled by Zhaopin and Renmin University, which tracks the ratio of job vacancies to job seekers in a variety of industries and cities across the country, rose to 1.91 in the first quarter of 2017, from 1.71 during the same period of 2016. The rising index is an indication the labour market had improved with the economy as was reported in April.
But certain challenges exist for graduates
However, not all parts of the labour market are strengthening. The record size of this year's graduating class is posing unique challenges for graduates. With such a large graduating class this year, new job seekers still face a daunting challenge, especially those from less well-known universities outside the top tier.
To help address some of these challenges, Zhaopin has developed the National Employability Test to both help graduates and employers identify suitable talents.
About 40.8% of graduates believed the labor market was very challenging this year, up from 36.5% last year. About 26.7% of college graduates had signed employment contracts this year, down from 35.4% last year.
The average monthly salary for college graduates declined by 16% this year to RMB4,014. The average monthly salary for male graduates was RMB4,374, higher than RMB3,624 for female graduates.
The IT/telecom/electronics/internet sector offered the highest monthly salary of RMB4,867, followed by RMB4,692 in the financial sector and RMB4,457 for the traffic/transportation/logistics/warehousing sector.
For the first time since Zhaopin started the survey in 2014, "opportunities to learn and grow" overtook "good salary and welfare" as the most important factor for college graduates in assessing jobs.
Challenging labor market for college graduates
Zhaopin's survey shows that college graduates are facing a more challenging labor market this year. About 40.8% of graduates believed the market is very challenging this year, up from 36.5% last year. 47% of graduates thought the job market was acceptable, even though difficult.
Trying to secure a job, 41.3% of graduates submitted 11 to 30 resumes this year, and 11.7% even gave out more than 51 resumes to potential employers.
It was more difficult to get interview opportunities this year, Zhaopin found. 31.9% of college graduates got 1 to 3 interviews, and 27.1% had 4 to 5 interviews. About 8.3% of graduates did not get any interviews this year, up from 3% last year.
By the end of April this year, 27.7% of college graduates still had not received any job offer, higher than the 24.8% seen last year. Meanwhile, 50.2% of graduates got 1 to 3 job offers, lower than the 55.4% last year.
About 26.7% of college graduates had signed employment contracts this year, down from 35.4% last year. 29.5% of male graduates and 24.7% of female graduates signed contracts this year.
For graduates who had job offers but declined to sign contracts, the top reasons were "salary/welfare did not meet expectation" (35.5%), "did not like position/work" (32.4%), and "not satisfied with work location" (27.7%).
Declining monthly salary
Both the expected and actual monthly salary for college graduates declined this year, Zhaopin survey found. The average expected monthly salary was RMB4,875 this year, a drop of RMB110 from last year. The average actual monthly salary for college graduates declined by RMB751 to reach RMB4,014 this year.
The average actual monthly salary for male graduates was RMB4,374, higher than RMB3,624 for female graduates. The IT/telecom/electronics/internet sector offered the highest monthly salary of RMB4,867, followed by RMB4,692 from the financial sector and RMB4,457 from the traffic/transportation/logistics/warehousing sector.
Among graduates who already signed employment contracts, 33.5% choose to work in first-tier cities and 33.1% would go to emerging first-tier cities. Emerging first-tier cities were actually more attractive to college graduates as 37.5% of them desired to find jobs there.
The IT/telecom/electronics/internet sector was the most attractive sector with 19.4% of college graduates preferred to work in this field and 20.3% actually found related jobs.
As to future plans after graduation, about 73.5% of graduates would find a job. Students planning for further education in China dropped sharply to 6.3% this year, from 16.5% last year. Students planning for further education overseas also declined to 3.4% this year, from 4.8% last year. Nearly 10% of graduates said they don't intend to take a job after graduation. They would like to take some time off to travel, do volunteer work, or spend time with parents.
What is the ideal job for college graduates? About 55.9% of graduates preferred jobs with "opportunities to learn and grow", while 52.2% chose "good salary and welfare". It was the first time since Zhaopin started the survey in 2014 that "opportunities to learn and grow" had overtaken "good salary and welfare" as the most important factor for college graduate to assess a job.
College graduates were more rational with overtime. They would work overtime when necessary to complete urgent projects, finish their own work, or improve their skills. About 40.3% of graduates would accept 2 to 5 hours of overtime a week, and 23.1% could work overtime 5 to 8 hours a week.