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A report by Boss Direct Employment – a mainland Chinese online recruitment platform – revealed that shortly after the Lunar New Year festival in early February, the number of new job offers dropped by 49% compared to the previous year.

No demographic has been harder hit than fresh graduates. The demand for graduates to join small enterprises decreased by 60% year-on-year, the report added.

In July, more than 8.7 million college students will graduate-a record number for the country – according to China Daily.

They will encounter a triple challenges to secure a job-a softening economy, a global pandemic and enduring trade tensions between the US and China – making the task this year especially difficult.

A number of measures have been put in place by universities, business and government to boost job prospects for China’s 2020 wave of fresh graduates.

At Beijing International Studies University, all 2000 graduates of the class of 2020 has been assigned a teacher by the university to offer them guidance and advice on securing employment.

While China Telecom plans to hire 11,000 fresh graduates, it was announced by Zhao Shuguang, deputy general manager of the company’s HR department.

Agricultural, primary education and the medical services sectors have also apparently boosted recruitment this year, hiring around 32,000 people – a 20% increase on 2019 – according to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.

Particularly hard hit are college graduates in Hubei province. The Ministry of Education has launched an initiative for 48 universities in other provinces to assist Hubei graduates.

Peking University was assigned to give assistance to Wuhan University, where it is helping to organise employment activities such as training and consultation, internships and job references.

Cities and provinces in China are also initiating programmes to boost employment for graduates.

The Shanghai government has announced State-owned companies will allocate a minimum of 50% of new positions for graduates. Guangzhou said it will commit 1.68 billion yuan (HK$1.84 billion) of low-interest loans for startups, while Jiangxi province will give a 1000 yuan subsidy to SMEs for every fresh graduate hired, China Daily reported.