I firmly believe that the mismatch between expectations and reality exists and the consequences could be serious for China and many individual families who spend their life savings on their only child's education.
China's surge of college graduates finds white-collar work elusive [Christian Science Monitor]
Some 6.1 million grads are expected to flood the job market this year – joining the 27 percent of last year's diploma-holders who still haven't found work. Instead, they're finding deserted job fairs, hiring freezes, and salaries that migrant workers might expect. Confronted by global recession and a heavily blue-collar economy, China's educated elite are having to lower their expectations – frustrating families and putting the government on alert ahead of the 20th anniversary of the student-led Tiananmen protests.
There's "a mismatch between expectations and realities, exacerbated by the current economic slowdown," says Thomas Rawski, a China expert at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. "It really is a clash of preferences."
The oversupply of students first ballooned in 1999, when China erected a flurry of colleges in an effort to mint more of the scientists and managers it needed for a 21st-century economy. It also sought to absorb a burst of teenagers born in a post-Cultural Revolution baby boom after 1976.
Enrollment rose quickly, from 3 percent of college-age students in the 1980s to 20 percent today.
Despite the rapid expansion, only 6 percent of the population now holds college degrees. Not surprisingly, graduates expect elite jobs, as do the relatives who footed their tuition bill.
Topping the A-list are government jobs, which pay modestly but offer benefits and security. Last year, some 750,000 students took the civil service exam – and only 2 percent could expect slots. Big companies draw students, too: Though less stable than the civil service, business jobs pay well and provide better training.