Many College Grads Drawn to Gig Work: Report
More job seekers in China, including many with university degrees, are seeking out “flexible employment” in China’s gig economy, according to a new report released Monday.
The report, published by leading recruitment platform Zhilian Zhaopin and Jinan University, found that demand for gig work increased in the first quarter of this year even as the proportion of such jobs has steadily shrunk since the height of the pandemic.
Based on analysis of job postings and résumé submissions on Zhilian Zhaopin’s website from January 2018 to May this year, the report focuses on gig work in China’s digital economy, including delivery driving and livestreaming.
Offering flexible working hours and low barriers to entry, such jobs became hugely popular during the pandemic as traditional industries suffered from lockdowns and restrictions.
However, while such jobs have shrunk as a proportion of all vacancies in the first quarter of this year following the lifting of pandemic restrictions, the proportion of people seeking such jobs has rebounded from 21.4% at the end of last year to 23.2% in the first quarter of this year.
“(The drop in flexible job vacancies) may reflect the gradual recovery of the real economy after the pandemic,” the researchers wrote in the report.
While around 60% of flexible job postings do not have educational requirements, 45.5% of flexible job seekers have undergraduate degrees and 6.2% have a master’s degree, compared to 42.6% and 5.4% respectively for those seeking traditional employment.
“New types of flexible job seekers are more likely to ‘downgrade,’ meaning their human capital level is higher than the requirements of the positions they apply for, leading to overqualification,” the researchers wrote.
China’s urban youth unemployment has soared this year, prompting the government to call on graduates to be more open-minded to alternative channels for employment. Experts have highlighted the problem of “vertical mismatch,” whereby graduates are overqualified for the jobs available to them.
These new types of flexible employment are particularly attractive to younger Chinese, with around half of flexible job seekers younger than 25, compared with 38% for traditional job seekers.
Such jobs typically offer few social benefits compared to traditional employment roles. According to the report, only 19.3% of flexible jobs are covered by social insurance, compared to 55.4% in the traditional job market. Meanwhile, coverage for both traditional and flexible jobs has dropped significantly since the pandemic began.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the number of “flexible workers” reached approximately 200 million in 2021, including 4 million food delivery drivers and over 1.6 million livestream-related workers.
Editor: Vincent Chow.
(Header image: An employer introduces his company to job seekers at a night job fair in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Aug. 4, 2023. Yu Jing/CNS/VCG)