November 23, 2022
CHONGQING — Although around a million of the overseas students who returned to China last year found work in innovative sectors or launched start-ups, grassroots jobs in the civil service or at the community level have also emerged as a popular choice for many.
In the face of fierce competition in which only one in 130 applicants succeeds, 26-year-old Li Ziming, who got her master’s degree in Britain, landed a job in a township-level government department in Chongqing.
“At first, people questioned my decision because they thought that with my educational background, I could have found a better job, but I had my own reasons for choosing it,” she said.
Li vividly remembers the experience of being stranded abroad for six months when China closed its borders during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, stability became one of her primary considerations when choosing a job.
According to a report released in 2020 by Zhaopin.com, a human resources website, the number of overseas returnees seeking to work in China last year rose by 33.9 percent over the course of that year.
This is notable, given that the figure in 2019 was 5.3 percent, and just 4.3 percent in 2018.
Another report released last year on the website showed that one-third of returnees were hoping to find work at State-owned enterprises, while 59 percent of those surveyed said they had sensed a clear preference for civil service jobs among their peers.
But government jobs are not winning hearts just because of the stability they offer. Having worked at her job in the township for a year already, Li has begun to enjoy it.
“There is a lot to learn, like dealing with the demands of villagers and implementing rural vitalization policies,” she said.
“And more and more young talent are choosing to work in the town. I’m not the only one.”
Another 26-year-old returnee, Wang Zixuan, has also been working in a sub-district office in a county in Shandong province for about a year.
She thought about working for a foreign trade company or in a university, but eventually decided to do something she felt was more meaningful. She was inspired by her grandfather and father, both retired, who worked as a military doctor and a civil servant, respectively.
“I was deeply moved by their decision to spend their lives helping our country develop. At work, I always keep in mind the importance of remaining humble and of searching for creative and efficient ways to get things done,” Wang said.
Zhao Xin, head of Dongxi township in Chongqing’s Qijiang district, has noticed the trend as well. He has seen highly qualified graduates, including those who have returned from overseas, flooding into grassroots services.
“Some come for the stability, but some are full of ambition and want to do their bit to help grassroots civil services. Sometimes, I’m amazed by their work attitude and ideology,” Zhao said.
“Their broad horizons, bilingual skills and other abilities will inject a strong impetus into rural development and help drive our country’s future economic growth.”