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9 Jul, 2013

Jobless Chinese Youths Turning to Booming Security Industry


Beijing, (China Daily) – July 08, 2013 – When Bu Yanchuan graduated from Nanjing Normal University in 2009, he didn’t dare tell his parents and friends that he could only find a job as a security guard with a meager salary of 2,500 yuan ($408) per month.

Now, the 26-year-old with a degree in international commerce has risen through the ranks of the security company where he works to become the deputy manager of its logistics department. He now earns more than 6,000 yuan a month, about the same as most of his classmates.

“Like many people, at first I thought my job was inferior, and that my capabilities were far above just patrolling in a factory. But as I understand the industry more thoroughly, I feel it is promising and a good start for my career,” said Bu, who is from Yangzhou, Jiangsu province.

China’s booming security service industry is in urgent need of talented youth, insiders say, but few university graduates are willing to enter the industry as the job is often regarded as one that requires lower academic credentials.

The industry experienced rapid development after the decisive Security Service Management Regulation issued by the Chinese government in 2010, which opened the security industry to private operators and international players, according to Fang Fulai, general manager of Weldon Security Service.

The regulation was also meant to fulfill China’s promise to open up its service sector when the country joined the World Trade Organization, Fang said.

He said the development meant young people with degrees appeared in the sector, adding that, in the past, State-owned security guard companies employed mostly retired army personnel in their 40s and 50s, or migrant workers on low wages.

“More and more clients are requiring high-quality security services, which means our security guards need to master English, operate high-tech devices and have the ability to handle emergencies,” Fang said.

The Weldon Security Service company was involved in the Shanghai Expo 2011 and Formula 1 Grand Prix in Shanghai. It has recruited more than 30 college graduates, some of whom are from renowned schools such as Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Jilin University, according to Ji Fei, its assistant general manager.

That figure is, however, still a tiny proportion of its 6,000 employees. Although these new recruits should work as ordinary security guards for at least three months, few of them stay in the front line. Most of them, like Bu Yanchuan, soon escalate to the management level.

“It manifests that young people with degrees have ample promotion opportunities, but on the other hand, we are lacking youth on the front line,” Ji said.

Regional managers in charge of about 1,000 security guards can earn about 10,000 yuan per month in the company, he said.

Tang Peigan, deputy manager of Shanghai Qinghua Security Management’s human resource department, said many university graduates just took the job as a transition.

“They can earn about 3,000 yuan a month, with board and lodging, and switch to other jobs as soon as they find them,” he said.

Tang did not reveal how many security guards with degrees the company has, but said “there is only one such guy in 100 ordinary security guards”.

The situation in State-owned security service companies is a bit better. Zhou Jianping, a representative of Shanghai Bailian Security Service, said they have about 15 security guards with degrees among their 2,000 employees.

“Their salary is about twice that of ordinary security guards, and normally they can be promoted to be a regional manager or to management level after one or two years,” Zhou said.

Zhou expects more recruits from universities as it is becoming more difficult for them to find jobs — a record 6.99 million students graduated from Chinese universities this year.

Fang Fulai from the Weldon Security Service said it is important for university graduates to give up their stereotypical view of the security service industry.

“By now, there is not a leading security service company in China that can rival foreign big companies such as the G4S Security firm that protected the 2012 London Olympics, so there is great potential in this industry,” he said.

The company is intending to recruit some university students as interns.

In addition, Shanghai introduced five grades of qualification certificates for security workers in 2009. To win a top-rank certificate, one needs to have a bachelor’s degree and several years of experience in the sector.

Statistics from the Shanghai Security Association showed that by the end of 2012, the city had 124 registered security companies, a sharp rise from 32 companies in 2009. The number of security guards reached nearly 130,000 and the industry’s annual turnover had grown to 6.9 billion yuan.

There are about 3,000 registered companies in China’s security service sector, employing more than 4.3 million security workers, according to a 2012 report by the China Security Association.