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    China’s Second-Tier Cities Vie for Graduates

    Local governments hope preferential policies will attract the best and brightest to come and settle down.

    Competition to attract top talent to China’s largest cities is becoming increasingly heated, with preferential policies promising graduates housing discounts, streamlined household registration, and even cash handouts, Economic Information Daily reported Thursday.

    Autumn is peak job-seeking season for the country’s millions of fresh university graduates. China’s so-called first-tier cities — Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou — are typically the most popular job markets, but other cities around the country do their best to entice, too.

    For example, a five-year plan to keep 1 million young talents in Changsha, the capital of central Hunan province, stipulates that there should be no threshold on household registrations for new graduates. In Wuhan, the provincial capital of neighboring Hubei, the government plans to build more than 3,600 “talent apartments” to provide affordable housing for new graduates. Many provincial capitals have similar policies.

    Some cities have managed to improve their reputations. According to a report from Zhaopin and Liepin, two Chinese job-hunting apps, Hangzhou is the most popular city among this year’s graduates. A report by social network LinkedIn earlier this year also showed that the city was popular among Chinese who returned from overseas. Since May, the tech hub in eastern China’s Zhejiang province has subsidized graduates who have master’s or doctoral degrees with 20,000 or 30,000 yuan ($3,000 or $4,500), respectively, when they find work in the city.

    Zhang Liqun, a macroeconomics researcher at the Development Research Center, a government advisory body under the State Council, China’s cabinet, told the Beijing Times that Hangzhou, as well as Suzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, and Wuhan should be seen as on par with China’s largest cities when it comes to economic development.

    A recent commentary on job market trends in Party newspaper People’s Daily said that the scramble for talented workers was due to the emergence of new industries that depend heavily on human capital. It said cities should not rely on material motivators, but create a “platform for dreams” for young people.

    Pan Yanchen, who graduated from Shanghai Lixin University of Accounting and Finance in June, now works at an accounting firm in nearby Hangzhou. Shanghai’s strict household registration policies and the high housing prices made the 24-year-old look farther afield when searching for her first job.

    “The development of Hangzhou in the last two years has been spectacular,” Pan said, citing last year’s G-20 political summit and the forthcoming Asian Games, both held in the city. She received a Hangzhou household registration immediately upon graduating with her master’s, and she’s now applying for the 20,000 yuan allowance.

    The city’s incentives for graduates played a role in her decision, Pan said: “If the city is just attractive but has no [preferential] policies, then that’s not good enough.”

    Editor: Kevin Schoenmakers.

    (Header image: A young man looks up at a government-owned apartment building that provides free temporary accommodation for college graduates while they search for employment, Chengdu, Sichuan province, Aug. 8, 2017. IC)