Educated but jobless in China

China has quadrupled the number of community college and university graduates in the last decade, but many are unemployed or underemployed because they refuse to take low-status factory jobs, reports the New York Times. In the U.S., employment rises with education. In Chinese cities,  young college graduates are four times as likely to be unemployed as those with an elementary education, according to a survey by a Chinese university.

In Guangzhou, “factories make everything from T-shirts and shoes to auto parts, tablet computers and solar panels,” reports the Times. Wages, benefits and living conditions have improved dramatically, but many factories are “desperate for workers.”

Wang Zengsong is desperate for a steady job. He has been unemployed for most of the three years since he graduated from a community college here after growing up on a rice farm. Mr. Wang, 25, has worked only several months at a time in low-paying jobs, once as a shopping mall guard, another time as a restaurant waiter and most recently as an office building security guard.

But he will not consider applying for a full-time factory job because Mr. Wang, as a college graduate, thinks that is beneath him. Instead, he searches every day for an office job, which would initially pay as little as a third of factory wages.

The one-child policy means many young graduates can count on the support of their two parents and four grandparents.

As in the U.S., factories in China are having trouble finding workers who can operate and maintain complex equipment. Yet vocational students are outnumberedctwo to one by students in academic classes.


POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON January 26, 2013

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