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Graduates' hopes dampened by salary fall
Updated: 2004-06-15 17:21

Bad news came in succession for this year's Chinese university graduates, as the job hunters saw their starting salary a quarter to nearly one third lower than that of last year's graduates, who themselves had experienced a difficult time finding an ideal job.

According to the latest issue of China Newsweek, when faced with the cold wave of the "salary fall", some graduates even proposed they would accept a "zero-salary job" or "no-salary job" on their resume, with hopes of catching the eye of employers.

Liu Fengchuan, a to-be graduate from the Sichuan Normal University based in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province, was one of them.

However, that indeed only worked in drawing the attention of the employers. Although Liu got a longer interview with his prospective employer than other job-seekers, he was finally turned down for his little experience in marketing and even having no idea how to do the job he was pursuing.

In the meantime, some other university graduates in Chongqing and Sichuan issued the call on the Internet to establish a "salary alliance", proposing that graduates say "no" to any offer with a starting salary lower than 2,500 yuan (302 US dollars) a month.

However, such a call will inevitably be ridiculed by the market, according to China Newsweek, saying that nine out of 10 Chinese university graduates will not be employed according to the proposed benchmark.

A survey by a Beijing University research team in 2003 showed that the average monthly salary for a Chinese university graduate was only 1,550.7 yuan.

Even the now white-collar job-holders also saw with a broken heart their salary drop by 14.7 percent last year, especially those in the IT industry, reported China Newsweek, citing a survey by ChinaHR.com.

With the falling salary trend, China is witnessing a growing number of university graduates, hence a tougher employment situation.

According to the Ministry of Education, China will see 2.8 million college graduates hit the job market in the summer of 2004,an increase of 680,000 over the same time last year, and by 2005, the number is expected to reach a record 3.4 million.

The Ministry of Education also said that the employment rate of university graduates will exceed 70 percent by this September, which at the same time means that at least 800,000 graduates will join the ranks of the unemployed immediately after they leave school.

Actually, university graduates have learned to readjust their state of mind and lowered their salary expectation, though very reluctantly and with feelings of helplessness.

According to another ChinaHR.com survey, most university graduates hoped to get a monthly salary between 2,000 and 3,000 yuan in 2003. However, the 1,000-2,000 salary range becomes the expectation of most of this year's university graduates.

The Taihe Enterprise Management Consulting, a Beijing-based human resources company, said that the salary fall does not indicate that graduates are not excellent as before, but that the employers are more rational in selecting future employees.

"The employers prefer recruiting experienced staff members, for they worry that it is not so easy for university graduates to adjust themselves to their work in one or two years," said Ren Zhanzhong, director of the Beijing Employment Instruction Center for University Graduates. "So more and more employers wouldn't like to pay for training them."

Just for that reason, Liu Fengchuan was turned down by his prospective employer, who said that the company may have to input more time, capital and human resources in training him, even though Liu would accept a "no-salary job."

"The universities should readjust their planning of majors and curriculum to adapt to the needs of market, offer their students more job training occasions and instructions, and create more opportunities for them to contact society," Ren Zhanzhong said.

"Otherwise, their students will not find a decent job after graduation," he added.

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