Over 35s in China are finding it increasingly difficult to find work, according to industry reports and trending conversations on the country’s social media platforms. And the phenomenon has only been exasperated by the economic impact of the pandemic.
According to a survey released last month by the State Council’s Development Research Centre, nearly two thirds of people aged 35 and above were still looking for jobs last September after being laid off at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020. The research was based on data from Chinese job portal Zhaopin, which also reported a 15 percent year-on-year rise in over 35s submitting their resumes to the site between February and September. This was more than double the rate for those under 35. Industries heavily affected by the pandemic, such as retail and wholesale, saw a disproportionate increase in resume submissions.
According to the study, nearly half of the job applicants in the 35 and over category fell from middle or high income groups into the low income group as a result of a loss of earnings. The study predicted that a third could only survive for three months at their current level of spending, with 70 percent saying they face economic pressures in the form of medical bills, children’s education costs and mortgage payments.
Complaints about age discrimination in the Chinese job market have also been a topic of conversation on the country’s social media platforms, to the extent that state media has named the trend, “the age 35 phenomenon.” A discussion titled “How does a 40-year-old unemployed person live?” has gained more than 27 million views since last year on Chinese questions website Zhihu, with commenters sharing their frustrations with trying to find work in middle age.
Talking to the SCMP, David Huang said he has not even bothered to apply for jobs after the clothing factory he owned in Guangdong closed last year. “I’m almost 50. Am I going to look for jobs? No. There’s nothing for me out there,” he said. “Finding jobs is too difficult.”
Age discrimination in the workplace is not illegal in China, and many job postings, even for the civil service, specifically request applicants under the age of 35. The trend is particularly prevalent in the tech sector, which prefers hiring fresh graduates who will take lower salaries and not complain about the industry standard hours of 996 (9am to 9pm, six days a week).
Although China is facing an aging population and a shrinking workforce after more than three decades of the one-child policy, youth and energy is still seemingly favoured over age and experience. Diplomas are becoming less valuable since the increase in enrollments at tertiary institutions, and the knowledge of older employees can be learnt by younger workers via reports and internet tutorials.
Shanghai recruiter Sunny Dong confirmed to the SCMP that many of the recruiters she works with set age limits of 35, but insists the requirement is not always set in stone. “I have recruiter friends who do not want applicants over 35 years old … but you give them a good candidate who knows lots of people at international schools for a marketing position and they still hire him. So it’s not absolute,” she said.
Warning：The use of any news and articles published on eChinacities.com without written permission from eChinacities.com constitutes copyright infringement, and legal action can be taken.
Keywords: over 35s in China work
All comments are subject to moderation by eChinacities.com staff. Because we wish to encourage healthy and productive dialogue we ask that all comments remain polite, free of profanity or name calling, and relevant to the original post and subsequent discussion. Comments will not be deleted because of the viewpoints they express, only if the mode of expression itself is inappropriate.
Please login to add a comment. Click here to login immediately.