Graduates participate in a job fair at a vocational college in the Qianxinan Bouyei and Miao autonomous prefecture in Guizhou province in June. [Photo/China Daily]
Today's college graduates, giving top priority to a sense of happiness as an alternative to the traditional approach of applying for residential permits in China's megacities, such as, Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen in Guangdong Province, are now heading to second-tier cities in seeking job opportunities.
According to the Ministry of Education, the number of college graduates this year is expected to reach 7.95 million, a year-on-year increase of 300,000.
Skyrocketing housing prices in first-tier cities are the root cause for the departure of graduates who might otherwise live under constant strain of substantial bank loans for owning a small/medium-sized apartment.
According to the Workers' Daily, the average housing price in Beijing by June, this year, had reached 66,000 yuan (about US$9,959) per square meter, while the level fluctuated around 50,000 yuan in Shanghai and the two southern metropolises of Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
Wang Mengyao, an undergraduate majoring in journalism, said, "There are few of my classmates who have been able to get a job [in Beijing] with a salary above 10,000 yuan. In such cases, how can they afford to buy an apartment there?"
Compared to the lavish housing prices in megacities, the second-tier cities are welcoming graduates with several preferential policies, such as lowering thresholds for residential permits or issuing housing subsidies, to help them settle down.
According to the government in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province, postgraduates or above, who are non-local residents but have chosen to work there, can buy houses without showing their social insurance records.
At the same time, Changsha, capital of Hunan Province, has issued subsidies of 15,000 yuan, 10,000 yuan or 6,000 yuan each year respectively to those who have chosen to work in the city while holding a doctoral, master or bachelor degree. The subsidies last for two consecutive years from graduation.
Besides, postgraduates or above who manage to purchase their first house in Changsha, can respectively enjoy subsidies totaling to 30,000 or 60,000 yuan.
A graduate, who came from Anhui Province and studied at Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology who wishes to remain anonymous, said: "Previously, our teacher often encouraged us to settle down in Beijing. However, in the past few years, the headstrong attitude among students to stay in Beijing has started to wane."
Some entrepreneurs from the middle part of China welcome the influx of graduates, saying that, by taking into consideration the college graduates' daily life issues, such as, housing, marriage and baby nursing costs, usually completed in the first three to four years after graduation, the companies can benefit much from the growing talent pool, essential to alleviate the shortage of human resources previously impeding their development.
Among many college graduates, the idea of owning property in top-tier cities has lost its appeal, and now they are expecting to lead more diversified lives rather than laboring for nothing but paying off a mortgage.
Chen Leilei, a college graduate majoring in industrial design who is heading to Zhuhai where she has been offered a job, said that, of her 32 classmates, only nine were guaranteed to stay in top-tier cities, while the rest are leaving for second-tier ones. The massive exodus indicates a change in attitudes about the purpose of life.
According to Lu Meng, a college graduate majoring in accounting, in addition to the affordable housing prices, the second-tier cities offer young people an opportunity to develop some hobbies, such as, photography, which is otherwise very costly.
The mindset of having to secure a job in top-tier cities is losing ground amid a growing demand to satisfy people's sense of happiness, Zhaopin.com, one of China's recruitment websites, concluded in a recent survey.