China banks hire tens of thou­sands in res­cue mis­sion

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE - BEI­JING

China's mega banks are ramp­ing up their re­cruit­ment of fresh grad­u­ates as a record num­ber en­ter the la­bor mar­ket, join­ing other sta­te­owned firms in boost­ing em­ploy­ment even as lenders deal with plung­ing earn­ings and bal­loon­ing bad debt.

The four big­gest state banks, led by In­dus­trial & Com­mer­cial Bank of China Ltd., this month kicked off their au­tumn cam­pus hir­ing, in­stead of in Novem­ber as in pre­vi­ous years. ICBC plans to hire 18,000 grad­u­ates this year while China Con­struc­tion Bank Corp. is adding 16,000, up from 13,000 last year. Bank of China Co. will in­crease its hir­ing by 15% to more than 10,000, ac­cord­ing to their ad­ver­tise­ments. Agri­cul­tural Bank of China Ltd. al­ready hired 4,500 peo­ple dur­ing the spring round.

"This is in di­rect re­sponse to the gov­ern­ment's call to pro­tect jobs," said Tang Jian­wei, a Shang­hai-based an­a­lyst at Bank of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Co.'s re­search in­sti­tute. "Even though the big banks are fac­ing pres­sure on their own earn­ings, they still need peo­ple to de­velop the busi­ness. Also it's im­por­tant for them to as­sume so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity."

China's largest banks have al­ready been leaned on by Bei­jing to prop up the econ­omy. They've been told to pump cash out to small and medium-sized busi­nesses and forgo prof­its by low­er­ing in­ter­est rates and pro­vid­ing re­lief on tril­lions of yuan of trou­bled loans. Most re­cently, the gov­ern­ment dou­bled down on pres­sure to get the ma­jor state-owned fi­nan­cial groups to cut salaries.

To­gether, the four big­gest banks em­ploy 1.6 mil­lion peo­ple and Con­struc­tion Bank's hir­ing plans alone ap­proach the com­bined staff ad­di­tions made by the largest US and Euro­pean banks in this year's first half. Chi­nese lenders are mostly look­ing to hire for cus­tomer ser­vice, wealth man­age­ment, and in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy, ac­cord­ing to job ads on their web­sites.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for ICBC, AgBank, Con­struc­tion Bank and Bank of China de­clined to com­ment. Yet the tens of thou­sands of new jobs are but a drop in the bucket.

The record 8.7 mil­lion of fresh grad­u­ates face the bleak­est job prospects in decades as the global pan­demic has pum­meled do­mes­tic de­mand and ex­ports. While inch­ing down re­cently, sur­veyed ur­ban un­em­ploy­ment hit a record at the height of China's virus out­break in Fe­bru­ary.

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