China's burgeoning pollution woes have led to a sharp rise in job opportunities for environmental engineers.

Employment data from around China indicates that environmental engineers are enjoying improved jobs prospects in the wake of government initiatives to tackle the smog which blights the country’s major cities.

Environmental protection jobs made the list of the top 10 hot work categories in the Anhui province capital of Hefei last year – an inland region of China suffering from some of the country’s worst air pollution.

According to Hefei’s own official data, environmental protection and quality safety jobs in Hefei logged an increase of stunning 84.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2013 compared to the preceding period, rising to 1,457 in total.

In neighbouring Jiangsu province, a highly industrialized coastal region which is host to a thriving export sector, graduates who have majored in environmental engineering or related disciplines enjoy significantly higher rates of employment – 94 per cent as compared to the province-wide average of 89.5 per cent for all college graduates.

According to Lan Yaming, an employment official with Nanjing University in the Jiangsu province capital, recent efforts by the government to clamp down on pollution have driven a spike in demand for environmental engineers from the private sector.

Lan reported a major increase last year in the number of employers searching for graduates in environmental protection and pollution treatment, with demand set to continue rising as the government back efforts to ameliorate its pollution woes.

Beijing has given its formidable backing to the development of China’s environmental protection sector, as it endeavours to stymie the onerous pollution caused by the country’s breakneck economic development over the past three decades.

According to China’s National Development and Reform Commission, the energy efficiency and environmental protection sectors already employs a total of around 30 million Chinese, while an official document issued by the State Council in August has set the goal of increasing the total productive value of these industries to 4.5 trillion yuan (approx. US$737 billion) by 2015.