A graduate in China with a master’s degree who was offered a job as a funeral cremator has reinstated the country’s high rate of youth unemployment at the centre of public debate.

At the end of April, Guangzhou Civil Affairs Bureau in Guangdong province, southern China released a list of successful job applicants on the internet for the position of cremator at funeral centres in the city, the Xiaoxiang Morning Herald reported.

Among candidates was a graduate with a master’s degree in philosophy from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Others include a graduate in architecture and another in chemistry from top universities in Guangzhou.

An official from the bureau said cremation workers are entitled to bian zhi, a benefit that ensures a stable, lifelong job. In China, bian zhi is only given to employees of government departments or government-affiliated institutions.

The flood of applications for crematorium positions has reignited concerns about youth unemployment in China. Photo: Douyin

Candidates for the cremation position should have at least a tertiary education, a permanent residency in Guangzhou and a driving licence. The job requires them to touch and move bodies and includes some night shifts.

“There are just a few openings for this position, but we’ve received many resumes from applicants,” the official said.

“Although workers in this role will have bian zhi, their monthly salary is not as high as online rumours have suggested. Very few people earn as much as 10,000 yuan (US$1,400) per month.”

The incident has focused public attention on the country’s depressed job market for young people.

The unemployment rate for the 16-24 age group climbed to 15.3 per cent for the first quarter of this year, while for 25 to 29-year-olds, edged up to 7.2 per cent, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Funeral workers are among those in China who are officially entitled to a job for life. Photo: Douyin

About 12 million graduates will leave mainland universities to join the job market this summer.

The cremation story has been viewed 6 million times on Weibo and received 1,000 comments.

“The person only needs to interact with human remains, and does not get involved in office politics and interpersonal relationships, unlike other civil service positions,” one online observer pointed out.

“It’s a perfect example of diploma devaluation,” said another.