SHENYANG: With two days of work and five days of rest every week, Liu Tiancong lives a life her parents could never imagine.
Liu, 23, is satisfied with her job as a private violin teacher in Shenyang, capital of China's northeastern Liaoning Province.
"I love my students, the income is not bad, and I have plenty of time to tour around," said Liu, who graduated from the Shenyang Conservatory of Music months ago.
Nowadays many Chinese college graduates choose to start their own businesses or be self-employed, as the job market becomes more stagnant under the influence of the global financial crisis.
China had 5.29 million college graduates in 2008, and about 86 percent of them had found employers at the beginning of 2009.
Flexible employment was seldom heard a decade ago, when many people at that time preferred an "iron bowl" job in the country with a history of planned economy.
About 75 percent of China's college graduates are passionate about running their own businesses, despite less than 2 percent actually realized their dream, according to a survey commissioned by the Ministry of Education covering nearly 16,000 students in 117 colleges nationwide.
To Liu's surprise, her parents were in support of her choice of ending a job at a musical instrument shop in Beijing and working as a private teacher back in Shenyang.
"They had been laid off from state-owned enterprises, so they don't think it is that important to have a permanent job," she said.
In 2003, as the number of graduates from China's colleges was swelling, the government encouraged that year's more than 2 million graduates to become employed "in flexible ways", by opening their own businesses if necessary.
Among the 94,000 college grads in Shenyang this year, 17 percent of 15,991 had flexible employment, and compared with only 2,000 flexible employees four years ago, according to the Shenyang Municipal Bureau of Personnel.
"Every college grad used to be given a job, but it is no longer the case," said Liu Hongwei, an associate professor of Luxun Academy of Fine Arts in Shenyang.
Liu graduated from the Academy of Arts & Design of Tsinghua University in 1982. The academy has 787 grads this year, but 78 percent of them chose flexible employment.
Besides the pressure from a sluggish job market, the fact that young people at present time are more outward-looking and willing to take challenges is another reason in the surge of flexible employees, said the bureau's chief Feng Lianqi.
Feng said most flexible employees in the city work as private teachers, gym coaches, designers, actors, marriage celebrants and online shop owners.
Flexible employment has a big potential in China with the development of economy, said Lin Muxi, a professor in Liaoning University. Lin said flexible employment takes in 90 percent of work force in India and is expected to take in 60 percent of work force in the United States in two decades.
Flexible employment of college grads will boost the modern service industry and create new jobs, said Lin. (Xinhua) Updated: 2009-09-06 13:49