Post–graduate job market in China

Published on Author marybeth

This past year in China, more than 7 million people graduated college and entered into “the hardest job hunting season ever” according to the Chinese state media.

The high demand for jobs is in part due to the 1990 movement to expand access to higher education. The motivation behind this movement was to alleviate the pressure on high school graduates to get jobs in a difficult job market by sending them to University for an additional four years before they once again entered the job market. This movement didn’t do much to help the job market; instead it postponed the issue, which is partially why current Chinese college graduates may find themselves in the current job crunch.

It is clear that China is having problems with finding jobs for their recent graduates, however, to put the issue into perspective in contrast with the United States, China has far fewer graduates entering the job market: only 5% of the population have graduated from college compared to 42% of the United States’ population.

One theory that attempts to explain the slowing job market states that it is due to the slowing economy, however, China’s 7.5% economic growth rate last year is still above the world average despite it being their lowest growth rate in the past 23 years.

Source: NBC News China’s 7 million recent graduates compete intoughest job market ever?lite

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4 Responses to Post–graduate job market in China

  1. Watch in the readings (esp the Miller book) for the impact of hukou. And ask yourself where all these new colleges could possibly find enough faculty who actually know the subject matter – will a degree say anything much about hurdles to get into school, to graduate from school, or to learn anything along the way?

    On a different tack, what is the incentive of local governments to set up universities? How can they finance them? Watch for that too in our readings. None use higher education as an example. But you should be able to make an educated guess by the end of the term and (if you try) find evidence for or against.

  2. Some relatives of mine and their friends in their mid-to-late 20’s are having a lot of difficulty finding meaningful work in China. My “cousin” (I use the term loosely) graduated from a good university in China and yet, she was doing menial work as a glorified secretary in a shipping company in Qingdao. There is simply not a lot of opportunity in China for young Chinese graduates. Her fiancé (also a college graduate) works as a wedding planner and photographer. Pay is low for both–after paying for food and rent, there isn’t any consequential amount left over. Both have decided to work for an American cruise line with the hopes of saving enough money to buy their own apartment and get married.

    To illustrate their struggle, my grandfather told me how much his apartment cost and asked how many years salary it would cost for an American to buy it. I replied that for the average American it would cost about 9 or 10 years salary. He said that for my “cousin” she could work 30, 40 (perhaps more) years and still not have enough to buy it. Housing prices in China’s cities are obscene and combined with low wages for educated young people make it very difficult for my cousin’s generation to make a good life for themselves.

  3. I’d be interested to know how much better they think the job market is going to get, and what the timeline would be. I feel like only more people are going to be entering the job market as time goes on, which might negate any advances the actual demand for labor/filled jobs may experience. Our economy is supposedly on the up-and-up, but we are still certainly feeling the pain of a difficult job market.

  4. I read a similar article about the post-graduate job market. A big problem in China is that so many of their post-graduates have such high expectations. Many of them are unwilling to take factory and lower end jobs right after college because they think they deserve better. If more post-grads chose jobs that were better suited for their talents and education level, perhaps this wouldn’t be such a problem.