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New business sectors ease employment woes

By CHAI HUA in Shenzhen, Guangdong | China Daily | Updated: 2020-10-27 09:25
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Participants dress up as historical characters at an escape room in Shanghai this year. [Photo/CHINA DAILY]

Delivery services, pet birthday parties, paid study rooms all among fast-growing segments in ongoing economic recovery

Zhang Han, a former bank clerk, now writes scripts for an emerging business-escape rooms-the number of which are doubling year-on-year and creating tons of new jobs.

Zhang's employer, national chain escape room brand Mr X, has opened 18 sites across the country, employing more than 400 full-time staff, including professional actors and directors.

Other novel practices, such as pet cakes, experience service providers of the Han ethnic group's traditional costumes and paid study rooms, are also mushrooming across the land. The vigorous development of new business models has given birth to plenty of new occupations, thus helping relieve employment pressure among youth.

According to a report by Meituan Research Institute-established by Meituan, an on-demand services platform-the trading volume of new forms of businesses on the platform in the last four years increased 2.7 times to 483.74 billion yuan ($72.51 billion).

"These small, but fast-growing budding industries have helped young people open shops and set up their own businesses," said Lai Youwei, vice-president of Meituan and director of its research institute.

Lai said the emergence of these new occupations is partly due to mounting demand from different age groups, especially the younger generation.

New businesses have also created new jobs, and more importantly, they can improve employment quality thanks to the learning of new skills and therefore boost incomes, he said.

Meituan said there are more than 70 new occupations on the platform alone, including take-out distributors, escape room designers and digital business managers.

Paid study rooms ranked first in terms of trading volume growth with an annual growth rate of 22.6 times from 2018 to 2019.

The report added that about half of the sector's participants choose their occupation because of passion for the job, but "pay is also competitive".

More than one-third of jobs in these new trades enjoy monthly incomes of above 9,000 yuan, and about 20 percent exceed 12,000 yuan.

The coronavirus crisis also imperiled these nascent stores, but 48 percent of new professional practitioners are confident that their industries have stronger risk resistance capability.

Zhang Han of Mr. X said he also found new staff in the innovative occupation generally have stronger passion for what they do compared to previous working experiences.

Instead of a group of people solving puzzles in highly decorated rooms, which are often transformed from residential apartments, escape rooms have grown into a unique immersive gaming industry, he said.

Sequel stories, professional actors and countless themes mimicking real-life adventures are becoming a mature entertainment category taking up young people's leisure time.

In the future, Zhang plans to bring the new business sector to third and fourth-tier cities.

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