AI tops the list of highest-paid jobs in China for fresh graduates
The largest Internet companies in China are offering high pay to lure artificial intelligence (AI) graduates. Research data indicates a big talent gap in the country's AI sector, where starting salaries for fresh graduates majoring in related fields have been raised to 250,000 yuan annually.

Recently, a list of highest-paying positions in renowned Internet companies for fresh graduates has gone viral in China, with its authenticity verified by those who have gained offers. AI related majors like deep learning and machine learning are known to be the most sought after.

The 2018 recruitment endeavour targeting IT graduates has already begun. The widely circulated list reveals that over 20 Internet companies are attracting talents with annual salaries exceeding 300,000 yuan, reported Economic View, a WeChat public account affiliated to the China News Agency.

The generous employers include Google China, Microsoft, Tencent, China Shenzhen Dajiang, Huawei, Netease Game, Alibaba, Didi and Baidu, among others. Most of the over-paid positions are in tech-savvy fields like algorithm, R&D, and software, with Google China's AI position topping the list with 560,000 yuan.

Li Hang (alias), with an M.S. in control science and engineering, will graduate from a prestigious university in China next year. He told the Economic View several of his classmates have gained offers from the top companies and their remuneration packages are in line with the annual salaries revealed in the list. “The highly-paid positions also demand a lot of extra hours,” he said.

In China's IT industry, talents in the AI and related fields are regarded as the core competitiveness these days. Surveys show that a large amount of Chinese funding is going into the AI field, nearing the pool of money flowing into the American AI sector. The Securities Market Weekly previously reported that between 2010 and May 2017, there were a total of 2,218 investments in the Industry involving 66.842 billion yuan.

And AI technologies' application in China is also on par with that in the US. The 2017 report on government work first proposed to speed up the R&D and application of AI technologies, proclaiming the development of the industry to be a national strategy.

In the circumstances, AI engineers become top targets of IT headhunting agencies. Based on the data of maimai.cn, an online business networking platform, the starting salary for an AI-related technological post is 12,500 yuan per month, and the average monthly pay could double for those with over three years' experience.

Now, China's AI industry is badly in need of talents. Based on the World AI Talent Report released by LinkedIn on October 10, as of the first quarter of 2017, there are over 1.9 million AI talents registered with the platform, among which 850,000 are based in the US, while 50,000 are in China.

The People's Daily previously quoted Zhou Ming, an official with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), as saying that China's shortage of qualified personnel in the field was 5 million.

The imbalance between supply and demand is not limited to China. Kai-Fu Lee, the founder of Innovation Works, said problem also haunts the Silicon Valley. “Those with a Doctor's degree in deep learning could get annual salary ranging $2-3 million, while Google, Facebook and Microsoft are all poaching the engineers with extremely high pay.”

The LinkedIn report is also indicative of good prospects for China's future development. “(Among the over 50,000 talents), 62.1 percent of them hold Master's degrees or beyond, which is higher than the 56.5 percent in the US,” said the report, noting although Chinese talents are mostly young people with less experience, their strong academic background grants them more potential.

The State Council has recently issued the New Plan for AI Development, instructing universities to join hands with enterprises in a bid to cultivate AI talents. The Beijing News reported that the renowned Beihang University has recently signed cooperative agreement with Baidu, China's top search engine company to cultivate 122 M.S. in AI. For them, 30 percent of the teaching staff are acclaimed academicians in the sector, 30 percent are specialists for enterprises and 40 percent are from the university.

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