Ge Donghua looks tired. With a tough job market at the year-end it will be a tough Spring Festival.
“Looking for a job is exhausting,” said the fresh graduate from Beijing University of Technology. “We have to condescend ourselves to giving up on ideal posts and accepting average jobs. It’s depressing.”
Ge’s graduation blues is shared by the majority of his peers, according to the 2013 Blue Book of China’s Society released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). The report indicates that 70 percent of college graduates see themselves at the mid-lower or lower level in the social stratification.
With a growing number of college graduates considering themselves to belong to the lower levels of society, experts suggest that students lower their expectations of the job market.
As the 2010 Report on Chinese College Graduate Job Pressure, released by CASS, shows, 18 percent of graduates would accept unpaid employment, compared with only 1.58 percent in 2006.
“The once high-flying college graduates are now accepting the fact that they are not as rare as their predecessors decades ago,” commented South Metropolitan Daily last week.
Experts say that the expansion of university enrolment since 1999 significantly increased university output while society’s ability to absorb such a great number of graduates has not been fully developed.
Hu Ruiwen, from the Shanghai Academy of Educational Sciences, said that graduates positioning themselves at the lower levels of society is a reflection of the current market demand for college graduates.
Hu thinks it is inevitable that college graduates face a tough market, with the country’s university education having been transformed from elite education to popular one.
“To some extent, universities now shoulder part of the responsibility to produce an educated workforce, rather than just academic talents,” said Hu.
According to a report by the National Institute of Education Sciences, domestic demand for academic personnel from research institutions and universities is about 100,000 per year.
“But there are over half a million postgraduate students entering a job market,” said Hu. “It’s easy to feel disillusioned when one’s expectations meet reality.”
Wang Feng, from the National Center of Education Development Research, agrees. Wang thinks that China’s higher education is now facing a dilemma. It is caught between professional and academic education.
“The country now needs a great number of well-educated workers to serve its expanding industrial and technological ambitions,” said Wang.
“At the same time, the education model retains its traditional, even outdated approach, meaning graduates struggle in a market that emphasizes professional skills.”