Photo by rdx913//Taken from Shanghaiist flickr pool
A job fair held this weekend for expat job seekers in Shanghai proved to be a disappointment, as over half the stands were advertising positions for “native English-speaking teachers.” The fair was supposed to focus on jobs in “areas such as clean energy and biological medicine.”
Organised by chinajob.com and now in its 7th year, the fair was dominated by companies searching for English teachers. An official spokesman Wang states “we do not know where to contact companies in other sectors in need of foreign talents.” An odd statement from a man who helps organise job fairs.
It wasn’t just the job seekers who were left disappointed either. Though “this year’s fair attracted more job applicants and employers than previous events,” employers reported that “good candidates are difficult to find.” It seems there was a major problem in matching up the right employers with the right employees.
The job fair echoes our own attempts to find a job that didn’t involve the sometimes soul-crushing work of English instruction. But we were mostly looking for jobs online. Curious about the exact ratio of English teaching jobs to jobs in other sectors, we checked out some of the bigger job hunting sites around Shanghai for recently posted positions.
It turns out that our anecdotal perceptions of the job market on the web matched the reality.
On enjoyshanghai’s free listings website we found jobs dating from March 11th up until now A whopping 65% of the jobs were for English teachers, as recorded below:
- 1 for Medical/Health
- 1 for Engineering
- 3 for Legal
- 18 for Finance
- 35 for Design
- 112 for English Teaching
While much fewer people use Craigslist in Shanghai, we decided to check that too. Because the format was super annoying, we just searched through this weekend’s posts:
- 1 for Medical/Health
- 2 for Finance
- 3 for Design
- 3 for Food & Beverage (including one for being a topless barman)
- 5 for Sales
- 8 for English Teaching (once you counted out duplicates)
There was one bright spot: since Shanghaiexpat’s job listings are mostly paid for, they were less dominated by English teaching jobs. The site only had 4 English teaching jobs out of 55 posted for this week and last.
Still, it seems the demand for English teachers is yet to die down. As early as 2007 Shanghaiist was commenting on an overload of English teaching employers. In light of the situation you may want to think about trading in that MBA for a TEFL certificate.
By Paul Hickey