Grads struggle despite big increase in job opportunities

08:57, July 22, 2011      

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Despite a big increase in job opportunities, not many more university graduates are securing positions, mainly because their abilities and expectations are not matching up well with employers' needs, education authorities said yesterday.

The number of openings is not the problem, as companies are offering many more jobs this year than last. The Shanghai Education Commission has identified 240,000-plus job vacancies for college graduates, one third more than last year.

But by contrast, the education authorities found only a tiny increase in the number of students who have secured their future employer. More than 86 percent of graduates in Shanghai have landed a job, been accepted by a graduate school or signed up for overseas studies so far, roughly 1 percentage higher than the same time last year.

"Many firms have increasing numbers of job vacancies, but they cannot find suitable employees," said Feng Lijuan, chief analyst at the headhunting firm 51job. "Many graduates are not willing to start from low-level jobs, which they are not able to do well. Their expectations exceed their real abilities."

She advised college students to get more internships to gain practical job experience.

A big number of employers that need graduates with technical knowledge failed to recruit qualified candidates because many local campus courses are too academically oriented.

Moreover, companies favor students from prestigious universities who majored in science and engineering over those who majored in humanities.

All of this is causing problems for many graduates.

"I would not have chosen the humanity major, advertising, if I had known that it's so hard to find a job with the degree," said a graduate surnamed Yang.

Shanghai saw 175,000 graduates this year, a 4 percent year-on-year increase. The education authorities have stepped up efforts to help students land jobs.

Ten majors where graduates are not successful with employers have been shut down or ordered to decrease admission levels at local universities in the past two years, according to the commission.

"We will publish the figures of each university major's employment rate to the public in the near future," said Yin Jie, deputy director of the commission.

The information is expected to help universities adjust their curricula according to economic needs.

Meanwhile, parents and students are eager to learn the employment prospects of various majors to help them decide which one to choose.

"The information will be very helpful," said Ozi Gong, a Shanghainese who is a senior at the University of Sydney in Australia. "We don't want to find ourselves unneeded by society after four years' study, and parents don't want to invest in vein," she said.

Nina Zhao, a recent graduate, said, "Many university majors claimed that more than 90 percent of their graduates can find a job. But we want to know the real condition."

Education authorities also are promising to work to strengthen students' internships.

Source: Shanghai Daily
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