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Employees make chips at a factory of Jiejie Semiconductor Company in Nantong, in eastern Jiangsu province, on March 17. As internet companies slow down hiring, the semiconductor industry is heating up amid Beijing’s push for technological self-sufficiency. Photo: AFP

Hiring among internet giants falls amid China’s tech crackdown, but remains robust in semiconductors

  • New jobs for fresh graduates at Big Tech companies have declined amid Beijing’s industry crackdown, and wages remain stagnant, recruitment data show
  • The strategically important semiconductor industry has continued to grow rapidly, but only 1 per cent of new hires were highly skilled technicians
China jobs

Job growth is shrinking at Chinese Big Tech companies as wages remain stagnant amid Beijing’s harsh crackdown on the sector, but the strategically important semiconductor industry has been bucking the trend.

Job opportunities at internet companies for fresh graduates, who will start work next summer, were 15 per cent lower than last year as of mid-October, according to data from Companies begin recruiting upcoming graduates in the fall, but it continues through the spring semester.

In contrast, the number of jobs available in the consumer and automotive industries increased by more than 10 per cent, according to

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Demand for workers in the semiconductor industry, meanwhile, has increased like never before, as it grapples with new challenges from a US-China tech war and global chip shortage that has driven a need for greater capacity. The industry brought in 65 per cent more new hires in the first quarter compared with the same period in 2020, according to

However, only 1.1 per cent of new recruits were semiconductor technicians, a relatively highly skilled job. The position with the most hires for the quarter was manufacturing operator, at 6.4 per cent. Sales engineers and quality control engineers were also in high demand, making up 5.9 per cent and 3.4 per cent of new hires, respectively.

Amid China’s drive for technological self-sufficiency, the semiconductor industry has been shielded from the worst effects of a crackdown on the technology sector. The ongoing campaign – in the form of a slew of new laws, regulations and penalties – kicked off a year ago when Beijing scuttled an initial public offering by fintech giant Ant Group and launched an antitrust probe the following month into Ant affiliate and e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding, the owner of the South China Morning Post.
Since then, several tech giants have been hit with fines and investigations, including Tencent Holdings, Meituan and Didi Chuxing, which faced a cybersecurity probe after its initial public offering in New York. New data security laws have made it harder for internet platforms to monetise user data, as well.
Part of the impetus behind the continued crackdown is a vow from the government to prevent the “disorderly expansion of capital”.
Another element of the crackdown came in July, when the once-booming private tutoring industry was hit with a ban on profits and public listings.

In addition to tanking stocks for tutoring firms, the crackdown led to plummeting job opportunities in the industry. Vacancies in July declined 32.4 per cent from March. That seasonal slump is normally much lower, falling just 1.9 per cent during the same period in 2019, according to Chinese recruitment platform

Available positions fell the most in Beijing, where academic pressure is relatively high, declining 49.3 per cent, according to

The crackdowns sweeping the private sector have pushed many young Chinese workers at internet companies to chase civil service jobs, which are seen as China’s “iron rice bowl” – typically meaning higher job security but lower pay.

In 2020, more than 1.5 million people signed up for the exam required to compete for a position with a state-level authority, 110,000 more than the previous year.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Technology giants hiring fewer people amid crackdown