globalEDGE Blog: How Chinese Economy Impacts Post Educational Plans

How Chinese Economy Impacts Post Educational Plans

Post graduation, previous students have to make a decision. Should they continue to educate themselves and receive a higher degree in order to make more money upon entering the workforce? Some select this option; however, in recent years the number of students immediately planning to do the opposite has increased, particularly in China. In regards to Chinese Business School grads alone, 76% plan on beginning their job search promptly after graduating.

This data was gathered from an annual survey provided by Zhaopin.com, a popular Chinese job search website, and 52,000 business school graduates from across China were surveyed.  The percentage of motivated job seekers has grown from 68.5% in 2012 to 73.6% last year. For the remainder of those surveyed, 20% will continue on with higher education and 4% plan on starting their own business.

Analysts believe that the increased number of students opting to search for employment could be due to increased confidence in China’s economy. A 2008 crisis hurt the labor force greatly and made it so that there “were fewer job opportunities in the market, which forced many students to postpone entering it” according to Liu Junsheng, a researcher at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security’s Labor and Wage Institute. Consequently, this year there is expected to be increased competition as new graduates search for work.

The increased competition can be attributed to both the increased number of graduates this year and their lack of desire to continue their education. 7.27 million Chinese students are expected to graduate this year, which is up from the 6.99 million students in 2013. The outlook is not positive for these future job seekers; in February only 60% of those looking for a job had received at least one offer. Additionally, each of these job seekers had sent 28 resumes to employers and done 5 interviews on average.

To help eliminate this issue, vocational programs are being further developed in China. Students with both a degree and vocational certificate can be great prospects in the job market. Conversely, an underlying belief that vocational programs are inferior to an actual degree-granting education is preventing China from becoming a strong manufacturing nation. In order to compete with two of its rivals, Germany and Japan, vocational education must be considered a viable option.

Despite the fact that those with degrees will earn higher salaries, students with vocational certificates are more likely to immediately receive job offers following the completion of their programs. An outstanding 90% of Chinese vocational students find a job relating to their major. At only 6,000 yuan per year for tuition, the equivalent of $963.46 U.S. dollars, vocational certificates can make graduates more practical prospects for employers and help fill the shortage of skilled workers China so desperately needs.  

In order to promote economic growth and lessen the possible unemployment caused by increased competition, Chinese students will have to consider their options. Would entering the workforce immediately be a likely possibility or would continuing education to enhance employment prospects be more beneficial? Ultimately, a balance between these two choices will be necessary to efficiently employ all Chinese workers.

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