Fintech giant Ant Group steps up hiring in blockchain, advanced computing as Big Tech firms tackle stagnant wages

  • Ant Group’s latest recruitment programme targets qualified new graduates for more than 45 positions based in various first-tier Chinese cities
  • It reflects the company’s effort to grow the ranks of skilled employees, following the overhaul of its online platforms under the scrutiny of regulators

Ant Group, the financial technology affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding, this week kicked off a new recruitment drive focused on blockchain and advanced computing technologies, as China’s Big Tech companies scramble to hire skilled young talent amid stagnant wages in the sector and increased scrutiny by regulators.

Hangzhou-based Ant Group, operator of mobile payment app Alipay, has launched its spring campus recruitment programme, which targets qualified students who are set to graduate between November this year and October next year.

The programme seeks to fill more than 45 positions, according to the company’s statement, published on Wednesday on its various social media accounts.

These positions cover eight categories – including technology, product, design, data and operations – to be based in a number of first-tier Chinese cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hangzhou, capital of eastern Zhejiang province and home to Alibaba. E-commerce giant Alibaba is the parent of the South China Morning Post.

The hi-tech job openings, which account for 86 per cent of Ant Group’s overall target in its latest recruitment programme, involve blockchain, privacy-preserving computation and graph computing, according to the statement.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
Blockchain, the distributed ledger technology behind bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, has become an important field for Ant Group to build up its expertise. Its Alipay unit is pushing blockchain-based digital collectibles to Chinese consumers via partnerships with 24 provincial and municipal museums.

A subfield of cryptography, privacy-preserving computation involves certain mechanisms to perform computations on data, while keeping the information private.
This field has become a major area of interest for Big Tech firms in light of China’s new Data Security Law and Personal Information Protection Law.

Graph computing enables major internet companies, which generate massive troves of user data, to explore connections between groups of entities.

The positions for blockchain engineer and privacy-preserving computing specialists – based in Shanghai and Hangzhou, respectively – offer a monthly salary of between 25,000 yuan (US$3,956) and 50,000 yuan, according to online recruiting website Boss Zhipin.

Ant Group also said in its statement that employees with less than three years of work experience will be provided a monthly rental subsidy, ranging from 1,500 yuan to 2,000 yuan, to help ease their financial burden.

The company’s latest hiring drive reflects its effort to grow the ranks of skilled employees, following the overhaul of its online platforms under the scrutiny of regulators.

It is also an indicator for fresh job opportunities in China’s internet industry, where wages have remained stagnant amid Beijing’s harsh crackdown on the sector.

In late February, Ant Group parent Alibaba launched its own spring campus recruitment programme to fill more than 150 positions at the e-commerce giant, according to an Alibaba statement. That number is up from about 113 jobs that Alibaba made available in the same programme last year.

The competitive salaries offered by Ant Group augur well for its latest recruitment drive, as Beijing’s crackdown on Big Tech firms threatens to slow down employment in China’s internet industry.

The sector, which has one of the youngest workforces, is expected to see a record-high 10.8 million new college graduates this year.

Still, more college students and fresh graduates are now considering civil service jobs, known as China’s “iron rice bowl”, that offer job security in spite of pay that is typically lower.

More than 2 million people, for example, have signed up for an examination for jobs with a state-level authority in 2022, up 34.2 per cent from a year earlier, according to official data.

The change of mood in China’s tech industry has come after a decade of exceptional growth, blessed by lax regulation and easy funding. For skilled tech workers from the country’s elite universities – who used to be fought over by Big Tech firms with offers of ever-higher salaries – the increased uncertainty has been particularly harsh.

Author: Ann Cao, SCMP

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