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Job Market Shake-up
China Today
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Job Market Shake-up

Fifty-six new professions, such as electronic data forensics analyst and carbon emission administrator, have been included in China’s occupational classification system since 2019, providing diverse employment opportunities for young people. They are looking to forge their own path in the changing job market.

All about Passion

According to Lu Zeqian, a 28-year-old Passion Test facilitator, loving what you do is a crucial factor for young people’s job selection, and she is a good case in point.

Following her parents’ wishes, Lu worked in a bank in her hometown after graduating from college. Surprisingly, she quit her “golden job” after just half a month. “My home is in a small town, and it doesn’t even have a coffee house I like, let alone a book club,” she said. Being inexperienced and uncertain, the young Lu was confused.

Passion Test, helping people discover what their passion is in life, has a history in the U.S. of more than 30 years.

Lu took the plunge and decided to take the test. “After prioritizing my life, I discovered that I have a great passion for brand marketing,” she said. Since then, Lu has not only seen exponential development in her career, but also gone on to become a certified Passion Test facilitator herself.

“A facilitator will help others find their preferred employment choices, and simultaneously I will understand more about how to live in my passion, which benefits others as well as myself,” she said.

Sun Na is one of Lu’s clients. In her early 30s, Sun was tired of her boring work in a public institution. However, because of her lack of professional skills and physically not in good shape after giving birth, she was anxious and confused about her future life.

With Lu’s help, Sun chose to follow her heart and began doing interesting things with friends, living a more comfortable lifestyle, learning more about the true meaning of life and going on spontaneous trips. These seemingly simple passions awoke Sun’s most authentic self. She focused on organizing her own life, starting in her home, and then sharing the process of home organizing online. This indirectly changed the relationships of those around her as they also began organizing their own homes and lives better. Through this transformation, Sun has achieved better time management and body management, and become more confident and assertive. Today, she has become a local influential organizer, and is often invited to give talks online and offline on the subject, realizing her passion.

To date, Lu has provided counseling to more than 200 cases and successfully helped many people discover what they love in life, which has allowed her to witness the huge energy contained in passion.

An undergraduate taking an exam of e-commerce live broadcast vocational skills in Yiwu, Zhejiang Province on May 8, 2020. 

Finding Yourself

Livestream salesperson Zhang Zhe admitted frankly that he chose to get into livestreaming because he was optimistic about the industry’s prospects. It had nothing to do with being enthusiastic about the business. ”I am a person who lives in the moment. Society changes, and so do I. There is always a way that suits me and allows me to make continuous progress,” said Zhang, who was born in the 2000s. His attitude towards work may represent the way some young people choose their careers.

In recent years, the wide application of AI (artificial intelligence) technology has produced a new profession of AI trainer. In 2019, a recruitment advert pulled post-90s Hui Jianbin into the industry. Hui was unemployed and decided to give it a try. After receiving training from the company, Hui got a deeper understanding of what the profession entailed. An AI trainer helps AI understand pictures, audio, text, and other content, so that it can be quickly identified. For example, an app that helps garbage classification can identify the type of garbage by taking pictures. In the initial stage, it relies on AI trainers to label pictures of garbage, such as glass bottles and plastic cans, which is part of the iterative training of machine intelligence.

Because of his outstanding performance, Hui was promoted to the position of business administrator. In addition to mentoring the company’s AI trainers, he is also involved in training new employees. “This profession suits my life rhythm, and it also gives me a great sense of accomplishment,” he said. The recognition obtained at work makes him feel that his efforts are meaningful. There is a huge shortage of AI trainers, and there are also high requirements for trainers. “I will continue to hone and improve my work skills in the future, and lead the team to do a good job,” he said.

During China’s Two Sessions in 2021, the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League submitted a proposal on Promoting the Growth and Development of New Professional Youth. Recent survey results show that the most important factor for youth to choose their current jobs is hobbies and interest, accounting for 23 percent. Development space and being able to show one’s talents are also at the forefront.

Zhu Di, a researcher at the Institute of Sociology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences who participated in the study behind this proposal, believes that contemporary young people, especially the post-95s and post-00s, are not facing difficulties in finding employment, but in choosing a career. “They are more willing to experience more choices rather than grabbing a stable job.” The employment is now more flexible and covers various fields like food delivery, livestream sales, and hi-tech practitioners. “Young people not only focus on themselves and their interests, they also attach great importance to the harmonious relationship between work, life, and family. The flexible employment mode of new occupations and their close connection with life are more in line with the needs of young people,” said Zhu.

Lu Zeqing (front center) is passionately sharing with students about the Passion Test.

New Opportunities

According to the 2020 College Student Employability Report jointly released by the China Institute for Employment Research at Renmin University of China and (a leading career development platform in China), college graduates are more attracted to new economic sectors. Working as a livestream salesperson is one of the popular options.

Although it was officially included in the new profession as the Internet marketer in June 2020, the occupation has been popular for a long time. According to Gao Wenjun, an associate researcher at the Institute of Sociology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, livestream salespeople rely on relatively mature e-commerce platforms and the stable live broadcast industry. It is therefore easy to form a professional and standardized development path. Meanwhile, they are also faced with the homogenization of livestreaming content and the need of professional training.

Insight China magazine released the Top 100 Live E-Commerce Performance Counties in China list in February 2021, and Yiwu ranked first. “Yiwu has a high standard for the development of the livestreaming industry,” said Qiu Yang, director of the e-commerce teaching and research section of Yiwu Industrial & Commercial College. He said that to comply with social needs, the college opened a livestreaming program in 2017. The courses cover product designing, short video shooting, script production, live broadcast skills, and effect monitoring to comprehensively cultivate students’ relevant skills.

In May 2020, entrusted by the Zhejiang Provincial Human Resources and Social Security Department, the college developed professional assessment specifications and question banks for e-commerce live broadcasts. The first batch of 19 students obtained the e-commerce livestreaming professional certificate. The next month, the college established a livestreaming e-commerce school.

Graduating with a major in e-commerce, Zhang Zhe became one of the first batch of students of this school. The training camp co-founded by the school and the platform created a good opportunity for him to put into practice what he had learned. Zhang sold nearly RMB 300,000 of goods for three consecutive days. “The competition for e-commerce live broadcasts is fierce. The experience gained in school has exposed me to a lot of insights in a short period of time, which has given me a big advantage,” said Zhang. Qiu Yang said that the training camp is one of the ways of school-enterprise cooperation to cultivate livestreaming talent. Through the integration of resources from both sides, win-win results for the school, enterprise, and students can be achieved. In addition, the school actively carries out cooperation with partners in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan to build a broader platform for students.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the school built a cloud platform for young people in Zhejiang and Taiwan. In 2020, a total of 1,069 youth from Taiwan were organized online and offline to participate in activities including the Zhejiang and Taiwan Student Entrepreneurship Cloud Class and the fifth Yiwu-Taiwan E-commerce Workshop. The college has become an important stage for young people to build their dreams, and has won many honors.

“The e-commerce environment in Yiwu has been maintained relatively well, and many emerging things are easier to develop here,” said Qiu Yang. He said the Yiwu government has formulated a series of live streaming policies in recent years to support industrial development and provide a lot of support in talent training. “As long as you have paid into social security in Yiwu, you can participate in the vocational ability certificate training for free, and the government will give each person a subsidy of RMB 980.” To date, 21 sessions of live streaming e-commerce training have been conducted, and more than 810 people have obtained the vocational certificate.

Su Ke, a cartoon fan and animation exhibition planner, tutoring students in his studio in Qingdao on June 8, 2021. 

Guarantee Needed

Lu Zeqian has her own theories about the risk of reduced social identity after resignation. “Most people care about the issue of a decent job, but in fact, behind the appearance of decency are numerous contraditions and fierce competition, and more people are concerned about self-recognition.” Sun Na said that her parents have seen positive changes in her such as closer relationships with family members, and they are quite supportive of her turning to a new career.

Unfortunately, Lu Zeqian and Sun Na are only the lucky few. According to Zhu Di, from the survey results, most young people in new occupations have a relatively high degree of professional identity, while that of their family members towards their new profession are relatively low. This shows that the social environment and social recognition of new occupations have not yet been established. “Hobbies at a higher level can also be used to survive. We should not be biased against this (emerging professions),” said Zhu.

According to Zhu, because of the temporary imperfection of business development, the salary of some new professions is not as good as that of other industries. “We should increase our efforts to continuously promote the development and improvement of new business modes through innovation, so that young people can not only follow their interests and aspirations, but also have better welfare,” he said. In 2020, documents such as the Opinions of the General Office of the State Council on Supporting Flexible Employment through Multiple Channels and the Action Plan for Skill Training for Millions of Youth were issued to help protect the employment rights and interests of young people in new occupations. Zhu Di said that the continuous announcement of new occupations by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security is an affirmation of progress in this area.

Local governments have also taken practical actions to provide better labor protection and security for people in new occupations. She believes that this is a big challenge for governments at all levels, and also a big step forward. “The differences of new occupations are quite large. We call on the government and all sectors of society to continue to pay attention to the needs of practitioners and protect their rights and development,” said Zhu.

China TodayShen Yi

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