Chinese return from overseas study hungry for work

Chinese return from overseas study hungry for work
File photo of students leaving after a Scholastic Assessment Tests (SAT) exam at AsiaWorld-Expo in Hong Kong.

CHINA - A new report on Chinese overseas returnees in 2013 showed that graduates with a master's degree represent the largest group among those who returned to China from overseas study, while those with a doctoral degree comprise the smallest.

The Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchange, under China's Ministry of Education, released a report on Saturday about the study and the employment situation of overseas-returned Chinese students. The report was based on the study and a survey of the 189,000 overseas returnees that the centre provided service for in 2013.

Those who returned to China with a master's degree make up 63 per cent of the total, while those with a doctoral degree and above represent only 6 per cent. More than 91 per cent of the returnees are between 23 and 30 years old.

Sun Jianming, director of the CSCSE, said that the high cost of overseas study might be the reason.

"More and more students are studying overseas in recent years, including wage-earning families. But studying overseas usually requires at least 200,000 yuan (S$40,530) per year for tuition and living cost," Sun said. "At the same time, most people doing doctoral degree studies are on scholarship or academic exchange programs, and do not have heavy financial pressure. They may prefer to spend some time earning experiences there. But I believe returning to China is the trend."

A total of 413,900 Chinese students went abroad for further education in 2013. At the same time, 353,500 graduates returned from overseas studies.

Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen are the top four cities luring returning students who are job-hunting, with 57.94 per cent of the returnees looking for work in those cities.

Finance-related industries attract the largest interest for overseas returnees. More than 30 per cent of those participating in the survey want to land a job in such industries. The report shows that the most popular major for Chinese students to study overseas is business administration, followed by applied economics and theoretical economics.

Sun suggested that returning students do proper research about the field they want to enter before they start job hunting in a particular city.

"Big cities like Beijing certainly have a great number of opportunities," he said. "But it is not the place for every student to fully develop your expertise."

More than half of the students participating in the survey did not have work experience before they went overseas for further education. Yet more than 85 per cent students worked in an internship or part-time job during their study abroad.

Also on Saturday, more than 3,000 overseas returnees and 110 enterprises and universities participated in the 2014 job fair for graduates and scholars returned from overseas study organised by the CSCSE in Landmark Towers Hotels in Beijing.

Students and applicants stood in line hours before the job fair opened, arriving as early as 5 am.

Cai Yixuan, a 25-year-old graduate from the University of Birmingham in the UK, has been hunting for a job in Beijing since January, shortly after she returned from the UK.

Cai majored in human-resources management both for her bachelor's degree in China and for her master's degree in the UK.

"I want a job closely related to my human-resources profession and a salary of no less than 5,000 yuan per month," Cai said.

"I pay great attention on the job's potential development, so I prefer to be a small fish in a big pond. But large enterprises do not hire people with no working experience in the field."

Zhang Weimin, HR manager of Beijing Fazheng Group, said this is the company's third time to participate in the job fair recruiting overseas returnees.

"Though we know it is not very easy to have years of working experience overseas, we would favour those who've studied abroad longer. They understand foreign culture much better," he said.

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