College Grads in China: Moving Back with the Parents?

China’s 6.8 million college graduates this year are facing a difficult job market – but then again this seems to be the case almost every year. Data recently collected show only 52.5 per cent of Chinese graduates signing job contracts nationally, a drop of 7 percent year-on-year. Beijing and Guangdong were far lower, at 46 per cent and 33 per cent, respectively (and not a surprise given the density of Universities in both areas).

As we’ve seen in the US (see BLS review for a recent take on this), the culprits include: sluggish economic growth; a mismatch between what student learn and what they need in the workplace; unrealistic expectations (I have a degree so I won’t except x and y work…); unpaid “internships” which don’t show up in employment figures; demographic bulges in the 18-24 year segment; and, in Asia, the inability to escape middle income traps.  Many of these factors appear to be highly relevant to China at the moment. 

Provided below is a quick look at the number of graduates and what they are learning, with a heavy concentration in the natural sciences and technology. 

Perhaps even more interesting to contemplate would be how China’s economy will absorb between 10 and 15 million college graduates annually by 2020, and what the educational system can do to better prepare them. Which leads to the final question: will this year be substantially different for graduates than the next ten?

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