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Job market is not good for overseas-educated Chinese
Xiao Ming
6/11/2004 11:53:00 AM

Since the inception of Deng Xiaopeng's policy of reforms and opening up the Chinese market, China has had over 700,000 of its citizens go overseas to study. Among those, 170,000 have finished their studies and returned home. In 2003 alone, 20,000 students returned to China after finishing overseas studies. Yet as the number of students heading back to China from overseas increases, the difficulties they have finding good employment opportunities after they return has risen as well.

According to reports from the China Youth Daily, since the 1990s Chinese people have gone overseas to work, live, or study in increasing numbers, occupying positions in a growing range of fields. Yet after the mid-nineties the Chinese government, aided by a quickly developing economy, has tried to encourage overseas Chinese to return to their homeland to work and start up enterprises, offering them preferential job placement as well. Thus more and more overseas Chinese have gone back to China, easily finding positions offering annual salaries of hundreds of thousands or even over one million Yuan (US $120,820.00), yet at the same time earning the jealousy of their local counterparts, who had much more difficulty obtaining such jobs.

Yet a recent World Employment Lab survey has shown that currently, over 35 percent of returned Chinese are encountering employment difficulties. And, even though 40 percent, have jobs, they feel that their career is not heading in the right direction. In Shanghai alone last year, 7,000 returned Chinese could not find jobs.

In the last few years, China’s job market has gone from a job seekers’ market to an employers’ market. Therefore, some returning Chinese maintain exceedingly high expectations of their market values, causing them to lose their competitive advantage with local job applicants. An employer could offer a recent Chinese college graduate 3,000 yuan (US $362.46) a month, but even if he or she gave an overseas Chinese applicant of the same qualifications 4,000-5,000 per month the latter might still be unsatisfied.

The superiority that returning Chinese have over local Chinese is that they understand the state of China and that are proficient in foreign languages, but they are constantly diminishing. Although most returning Chinese approach job searching with a humble attitude and are willing to start their careers from scratch, they still may not get an opportunity for employment. Some returning Chinese with advanced degrees find it easier to get a job just by using their undergraduate degrees. Recently, however, more and more returning Chinese are finding that their foreign language abilities are not enough to earn them a job, leaving many unable to find suitable work and still waiting for employment.

The advice employment agencies often give to returning job hunters is that they should not only focus on large cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou; in fact, many employment opportunities can be found in the Northeast and Midwest of China. For instance, recently an American IT company opened up 600 jobs for its branch in Chengdu City, Sichuan Province. The company advised returning Chinese who were still looking for jobs to change their conceptions about where employment can be found and to actively search for work on the market.

Most returning Chinese have found that although after they come back from overseas they experience a period of difficulty in getting used to the new environment, even thought they have a relatively strong ability to endure setbacks and to find niches for themselves. Therefore, many of them believe that as long as their levels of experience and education are high enough, opportunities will fall their way.

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