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        In search of fulfillment

        By Zou Shuo in Changsha | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-03 06:00
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        Village officials who recently graduated from universities participate in a livestreaming program to promote locally produced strawberries in Guangling county, Shanxi province, in March. HUO FEIFEI/FOR CHINA DAILY

        More university graduates are choosing to work at the grassroots level with govt support, encouragement

        Yang Mingren has worked at a remote freight train station in Anshun, Guizhou province, since graduating from Beijing Jiaotong University in 2021 with a bachelor's degree in transportation.

        His grandparents live in Guizhou and he wanted to work near them, as they raised him after his parents died when he was little.

        He works different shifts for four days and then is off for the next four days, so he can have more time to spend with his family.

        As the station is in a remote place, he does not have many people to talk to other than his colleagues.

        Luckily, one of his colleagues became his wife. They got married earlier this year, and his wife is now pregnant.

        Yang is one of many university graduates choosing to work at the grassroots level.

        To encourage this practice, the General Office of the State Council issued a notice in April last year asking for recruitment quotas for grassroots positions to remain stable this year. The notice also required a special program to be launched to hire college graduates to work as village doctors and teachers.

        According to a recent report issued by Beijing-based education consultancy MyCOS, the number of college graduates working in counties and lower levels accounted for 25 percent of the total in 2022, 5 percentage points higher than in 2018.

        The average wage of college graduates working in counties and lower levels has risen to 5,377 yuan ($742) per month in 2022 from 4,640 yuan per month in 2018, while their job satisfaction rate grew from 67 percent to 76 percent during that period.

        The report also found that 23 percent of the students working in counties and lower levels have jobs in the education sector and 15 percent work for government institutions.

        The report said working in counties is deemed to be attractive by many graduates as they can live near their hometown and enjoy a stable job with less pressure.

        "Compared with some of my classmates who work in Beijing and have to take a crowded subway and share an apartment with strangers, I am satisfied with my life in this small place," Yang said.

        "I have thought about working in Beijing, but it would be very difficult for me to afford an apartment."

        Some of the young people in big cities are reluctant to get married or have children because of the heavy financial burden imposed by the high housing prices and living costs, which do not seem to be a problem in counties, he said.

        He is excited about becoming a father and has already started to read books on raising babies.

        "I am more than happy about my life now. I do not have high expectations. I just want a simple life," he said.

        County 'doctor'

        At the invitation of old high school classmates, Li Mingqi, 38, who was studying in Beijing, went back to Liling, Hunan province, last year.

        He serves as the assistant to one of his classmates, who is the general manager of Liling Huaxin Insulator Technology Co.

        He is about to graduate with a doctoral degree in social management at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China this year. He worked for the local government in Chenzhou, Hunan province, from 2012 to 2015 and for a university in Changsha from 2015 to 2019 before pursuing a doctoral degree in Beijing.

        "The electric porcelain industry is developing rapidly in Liling, which is close to Changsha where my wife and son live, so I decided to go back to my hometown in Hunan," he said.

        "There are many people with doctoral degrees in Beijing, but only a few in Liling, so I am referred to as 'doctor' in the company, a somewhat fancy term," he said.

        Meanwhile, working at a private company in a senior position means he has to deal with all kinds of challenges every day, which is rather different from working for the government or at the university, both considered stable jobs for many Chinese people, he said.

        Working in Liling also means he can visit his wife and children about three times a week as he can drive to Changsha in about an hour.

        His salary is considered a high salary for a small county, he said, and is more than he earned in his previous jobs. The local government also offered him a 100-square-meter apartment free of rent, an incentive reserved for special talent.

        "There is much to learn and the job is very challenging, which I enjoy, as I am tired of cozy jobs," he said.

        He is also very motivated as the company has set its annual sales revenue from 650 million yuan ($89.7 million) last year to 1 billion this year.

        "My job is very fulfilling, as there are different challenging tasks waiting for me every day, which energizes me to be more proactive and innovative," he said.

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