HEFEI, June 25 (Xinhua) -- At a time when securing a stable job is becoming ever harder for college graduates in China, Cai Huailian decided to take the bold step of returning to his rural home and becoming a farmer.
Born in a village in Mengcheng City of east China's Anhui Province, the 23-year-old went to Anhui Agricultural University in the provincial capital of Hefei four years ago to study mechanical design, manufacturing and automation.
During the past few months, when his former classmates have been looking for engineering jobs in big cities, Cai has been busy leasing farmland.
"I can get about 200 mu (13.3 hectares) of farmland by this autumn. My first plan is to grow wheat and corn," he said.
The dream of having a farm took root two years ago.
"As a college graduate from an agricultural university, I can use my knowledge. Starting a business is a good choice for me," Cai said.
A record high 7.2 million Chinese students have left universities this year. But it comes at a time when the country's manufacturing sector is hampered by a slowing economy. The job market has been especially tough.
Han Ping, head of the enrolment and employment department of Anhui Agricultural University, said the employment rate of graduates this year was 65 percent at the beginning of June, down by 10 percent from 2013.
Due to employment pressures, college students are increasingly considering self-employment. However, according to statistics from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, only around 1 percent of Chinese college graduates have started their own businesses.
Han said graduates wanting to set up a business are facing problems including lack of capital, experience and supportive social conditions.
Wang Shuang, a former schoolmate of Cai Huailian, is considering starting a business in Hefei City. But he said getting bank loans, buying equipment and obtaining documents have all been frustrating.
Last month, nine government departments jointly issued a notice aiming to help 800,000 university students enter self-employment from 2014 to 2017.
Local governments and organizations must provide support for students who want to start their own business such as offering training and education, making registration more convenient, and offering capital support.
Huang Jingrong, a professor at Hefei University of Technology, said encouraging graduates' entrepreneurship will not only help ease the employment situation but also promote innovation in business.
Twelve years ago, the university launched a scientific entrepreneurship center to provide support to graduates wanting to start a business. So far, about 100 scientific entrepreneurship programs and 300 people have been included in the center.
Fan Hesheng, a sociologist in Anhui Province, said the country's industrial restructuring can provide more opportunities to student entrepreneurs and the government should introduce more detailed policies to support college graduates.