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Internet boom reshaping China’s jobs market

Updated: Aug 13,2015 8:26 AM     China Daily

The Internet boom is reshaping China’s employment market by creating abundant opportunities and more self-employed workers, a report claimed on Aug 12.

The study by Boston Consulting Group said the Internet created 1.7 million Chinese jobs in 2014, 88 percent of them in small and-medium-sized enterprises with revenue less than 2 billion yuan ($316 million).

It forecasts that 3.5 million Internet-based job opportunities will be created by 2020, as the Web penetrates more traditional industries.

“The numbers are eye-catching given that China is wrestling with slower economic growth,” said Li Shu, managing director at BCG and the report’s author.

“But what’s more impressive is the number of jobs the Internet has generated indirectly.”

Taking Taobao, the online shopping site run by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, as an example, the report shows it employs less than 5,000 staff but sellers using the customer-to-customer platform have created 8.66 million jobs.

“Compared with traditional industries which are operating independently, online businesses tend to build an open ecosystem which involves a large number of participants and can more efficiently boost the development of relevant industries,” Li said.

The report highlights the Chinese logistics industry as a major beneficiary of the Internet boom, which saw its employees surge from 160,000 in 2011 to 1.4 million last year, a 900 percent rise.

The study claims the average age of employees who work in the Internet sector is 28.3 years old and 55 percent of workers are younger than 29, in sharp contrast with national data which shows 53 percent of Chinese employees are older than 40.

Jin Jianhang, the president of Alibaba, said the study confirmed that “the Internet is dominated by young people”.

“It empowers companies to boost efficiency while employing fewer employees, offering a way to tackle China’s aging population.”

BCG also noted that 60 percent of people working in technology sectors will start hunting for greener pastures within three years.

“The high turnover rate in Chinese Internet firms shows the readiness of tech workers to seek new opportunities,” Li said.

“They are more open to risk and whenever a chance pops up they will be the first to grasp it.”

The report also said an increasing number of people in the sector are becoming self-employed, as the Internet “lowers the bar to starting their own businesses”.

BCG said nearly 210,000 fresh graduates chose to start their own business last year, a 21 percent rise on 2011.

It also suggested more individuals were opting out of full-time work, preferring to be freelance, adding that skilled Internet-based workers do not like to be tied to long-term contracts.