The job search has been increasingly fierce across many countries, including China with its relatively high number of University graduates, 7.5 million expected this year, compared to 3.24 million new jobs created in the first quarter. Facing with such situation, Kunming, a mainland Chinese University, has taken initiatives and brought 65 of its best graduates online on July 2nd, to “help them deal with the harsh employment conditions this year”, according Mr. He Hua, the University’s principle.
To be more specific, employers can now use an e-commerce platform, the ‘Kunming University Talent Shop’ on Alibaba’s retail platform Taobao, to view students’ photos, specialities, career ambitions and preferred salaries. If interested, the company needs to pay a 1000 yuan ($160) deposit to have the right to bid and start the recruiting process. The university then views companies’ credentials and arranges phone conversations, online interviews and other communication exchanges with students. The deposit is returned to the company after one week whether or not a job offer is made.
What are the possible implications of such move?
Firstly, it creates a new platform for job search, connecting talents and employers directly and “build a bridge between companies and students,” according to Mr. He Hua. Therefore, it facilitates the information flows between the employers and employees, enabling them to compare and contrast different alternatives, thus make more informed decisions. With better matches between job requirements by employers and talents, one might expect higher productivity and lower job separation rates, hence lower unemployment. Furthermore, online platform in the long run will increase Chinese labour market’s flexibility and possibly overseas job opportunities.
Secondly, it reduces the recruitment costs for both businesses and students. Employers can now review applicants and start the recruiting process online. This can help reduce job listings, marketing, University events and waiting time costs, addressing the already high hiring costs in China. Savings in recruitment costs may then be reinvested in training and improving working conditions. Whereas, for students, online platforms reduce money, time and efforts spent researching and applying for different companies and positions.
Thirdly, higher salary offered for talents, thanks to the process of auctioning, may provide greater incentives for students to pursue education in general and undergraduate degree in particular. Better pay and possibly working conditions may also increase living standards, enhancing social stability in China.
Lastly, an online platform is a mean of keeping an eye on competition. For employers, if they find themselves uncompetitive in the job market, they may have to increase salary offered as well as improve working conditions and trainings. On the other hands, if students find themselves in such situation, it is a signal for them to improve their weaknesses and skills thus increases their employment chances.
Is this model applicable to a larger extent in China and possibly to other countries?
The answer is unclear. ‘Kunming University Talent Shop’, the first of its kind as claimed, seems to create many exciting opportunities in theory. Yet it is possible that some practical issues may surface during the process including costs of verifying companies, difficulties in liaising between companies and students as well as data security and protection. Nonetheless, if successful, online talent shops may become a new form of job market, transforming labour market characteristics and structures across China, and possibly, across many other countries.