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Young employees turning to niche jobs

By Chen Meiling | China Daily | Updated: 2019-07-23 07:51

A pet photographer takes pictures of a dog in a studio in Guangzhou, Guangdong province.  [Photo/China News Service]

Professions linked with customized services becoming popular, says Zhaopin report

New and unusual jobs are arousing the interest of young employees in China. Some of them have never been heard of by previous generations-home party manager, pet trainer, esports consultant, scalp therapist and photo-shooting tour planner, to name a few. It shows the Chinese service industry is undergoing a consumption upgrading as more customized services are created by the growing demands of customers and the booming internet, experts said.

More than 90 percent of employees involved in emerging occupations in the service industry were born after 1980, of which half are from the 1990s and 22 percent were born after 1995, according to a report recently released by Chinese online recruitment platform Zhaopin and on-demand service provider Meituan Dianping, based on responses from 9,784 participants.

Industries covered include catering, hospitality, entertainment, cosmetic medicine, training, weddings and parent-child interaction. The top five reasons for career choice were "positive about the future of the industry", "pure love", "chance to deal with different people", "want to try new things" and "flexible working time", it said.

Tu Chao, 31, runs a room escape brand in Chengdu after giving up his job as a mining engineer at a State-owned enterprise. Room escape refers to physical adventure games when a group of people are locked up and have to solve a series of puzzles to escape. Most of the puzzles and decorations are based on a script. Some involve role play.

"It's cool and exciting to bring immersive experiences to customers with whatever settings or stories in your mind. It's more real than watching a film," he said, adding the revenue is growing and the segment is developing quickly in China.

Ke Xuan, in her 20s, is a stylist specializing in hanfu, the ancient clothing of China's Han ethnic group. She told the 21st Century Business Herald that she wants more people to accept hanfu as a special culture. She left her job with a company in early 2018 to realize her dream. "Only by doing things I like can my career go further."

Li Qiang, executive vice-president of Zhaopin, said these emerging occupations have potential in the future as the life service industry, which is based on consumer demand, is upgrading in the Chinese market.

"Consumers ask for high-quality, better experiences and more targeted services, which brings opportunity for talent with multiple and professional skills," he said.

Shao Heng, vice-president of knowledge-sharing app Dedao, said in her online program that the scope of service has expanded so that new occupations are created. "In the past, we did not think it necessary to hire someone to take photos of pets or arrange rooms. Now there are professionals to provide such services."

The demands of consumers have become more specific when the basis of consumption has transformed from survival to enjoyment, she added.

In 2018, the number of employees in the service industry reached about 360 million, 10 million more than 2017. The sector developed faster and contributed more to employment than the industrial sector over the past two years amid the economic structure adjustment in the country, said Fu Linghui, spokesman of the National Bureau of Statistics at a news conference in June.

Data from the bureau also showed China's service industry grew 7 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2019, outperforming the overall GDP growth of 6.3 percent.

Though life service workers may signal low employment threshold and unstable income, monthly salary of over 50 percent of the report's interviewees surpassed 5,000 yuan ($727.1), and about 25 percent exceeded 10,000 yuan.

Top earners were mainly involved with pets, wedding service, childcare, cosmetic medicine and entertainment, and often have professionalized skills that are hard to find, it said. Senior maternity matrons, for example, need to acquire knowledge such as nursing, breast feeding, infant massage and nutritional recipes, according to Shao.

Charlie Liu, IT practice leader and partner of global executive search firm Heidrick& Struggles in China, said though it's good to see more novel occupations springing up, they would not likely be the mainstream choices for the public, since the long-term career development path is not clear.

Shang Fei, 37, from Beijing, opened a home party space in 2011 for consumers to play board games and sing karaoke. In 2016, he closed it and founded a hot-pot brand.

He said five-year operation meets the ceiling of home party business. "Catering industry, instead, is closely related to everyday life and more stable."

Li from Zhaopin suggested employees in the service industry should improve their professional skills, have continuous occupational training, enhance service awareness and learn more digital tools to achieve self-development.

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