New jobs are borne out of new techs, as government ramps up efforts to shore up domestic employment
Published: Aug 27, 2023 05:56 PM
Job hunters participate in a job fair in Haikou, South China's Hainan Province on August 12, 2023. The positions offered at the fair included business services, network engineering and social media operation. Photo: VCG

Job hunters participate in a job fair in Haikou, South China's Hainan Province on August 12, 2023. The positions offered at the fair included business services, network engineering and social media operation. Photo: VCG

The boom of emerging industries and constant upgrade of Chinese consumer demand has given rise to a range of new job occupations such as artificial intelligence (AI) trainers and live-streaming sales hosts, which will brighten up the country's employment prospects.

Li Qing, a 29-year-old resident in Fengjie, Southwest China's Chongqing city, is an online marketer, a new profession capitalizing on high-speed mobile internet to promote products. 

Betting on the huge development potential of the agricultural sector, Li resigned as a white-collar worker at a metro maintenance firm in Beijing and moved back to her hometown to start up business as an online marketer.

She opened a store on 832 Platform, an online sales platform aimed at promoting agricultural produce in less-developed rural regions, selling mushrooms, potatoes, rice and edible oil. "Over the past three years, our total sales volume has exceeded 100 million yuan, driving up income growth for more than 1,000 rural households," Li told the Global Times.

Today, many farms in the country's hinterland are developing fast, but they need more accessible channels to sell their products. "It's a business opportunity for me and also a good chance to help farmers earn more money," Li said.

The country's live-streaming industry employed more than 10 million as of the end of 2021, of whom, over 1.23 million are live-streaming hosts, the Economic Information Daily reported. The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security estimated that there could be a shortage of 40 million online marketers by 2025.

Talent shortfall 

In 2022, China added 158 new occupations to its revised list of recognized jobs, of which 97 new professions relate to digital economy. Online marketers and AI trainers are included in the list.

Jin Yi, in his 20s, is a new member of the emerging corps of AI trainers. Just like a child learning to walk, AI study needs trainers to constantly remind it of the right methods and human beings' mindset. Through numerous data accumulation and practice, AI is able to recognize human beings' "language," Jin told the Global Times.

Having been engaged in the AI training sector for a year, Jin said he has experienced a variety of difficult projects and becomes proficient with 3D annotation, a harder skill to master.

In June 2022, Baidu Intelligent Cloud and Liandu district in Lishui, East China's Zhejiang Province finalized a partnership on jointly building Baidu Intelligent Cloud AI data base. As of today, there are more than 500 workers like Jin training AI systems at the base, the company said.

In recent years, new professions like AI trainers have sprouted up across China, bolstered by the rapid development of new economic models. "It's estimated that there is a shortage of about 5 million skilled workers in the emerging AI industry. Shanghai needs about 400,000 AI workers alone by 2025, but there are only around 40,000 students majoring in AI on campus at local colleges," Qiu Xin, Party Secretary of Fudan University, said during 2023 World Artificial Intelligence Conference, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

"I believe our industry will see greater development in the future, along with the advancement of AI. I hope more graduates will join the industry and contribute to the development of AI," Jin said.

In addition to create more jobs, new technologies will help transform traditional industries which will help create new and higher-paying jobs in the coming years, Li Changan, a professor at the Academy of China Open Economy Studies of the University of International Business and Economics, told the Global Times.

In the future, new sectors including AI, renewable energy and high-end manufacturing are expected to play an important role in providing jobs for college graduates, analysts said.

The deepening digitalization process is expected to play an important role in expanding employment channels and upgrading employment structure, Cao Heping, an economist at Peking University, told the Global Times.

Deepening digitalization 

The number of jobs supported by digitalization is expected to reach 449 million in 2030, according to a report on China's digital economy released in February this year.

The country's employment market remains stable, with the surveyed urban unemployment rate at 5.3 percent in July, lower than 5.4 percent a year earlier, Fu Linghui, a spokesperson from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), said on August 15.

"Information from the Ministry of Education shows that the majority of this year's college graduates have landed jobs and their employment remains stable," Fu said, noting that authorities are stepping up efforts to help those still unemployed to look for jobs.

According to latest data released by the Ministry of Finance, a total of 66.76 billion yuan ($9.17 billion) from the central government budget has been allocated for unemployment subsidies in 2023, up 8 percent compared with 2022, as authorities try to stabilize domestic job market.

Some provinces across the country recently issued new policies to encourage state-owned enterprises to play an exemplary role in stabilizing employment and expand recruitment of college graduates. For example, East China's Anhui Province issued a notice requiring state-owned enterprises to recruit at least 50 percent of fresh graduates to shore up youth employment stability.

South China's Guangdong Province plans to offer subsidies of 1,000 yuan ($137) to companies that hire young people aged 16 to 24 between January 1 and December 31 this year, in an effort to encourage the employment of young people, according to a circular published by the provincial government on August 16.

Cao said that more efforts should be made to boost the development of digital economy this year in multiple aspects including improving employment information release and distribution, urban and rural job recruitment infrastructure construction, as well as creating more job opportunities to be enabled by the emerging technologies.