The value of a college education in China

What people are saying about Mulberry Fields
“A very interesting blog.” – a company in France

There have been a couple of articles in the Chinese newspapers this past week about the steady competition that recent college graduates in China face nowadays when they look for employment. Their situation seems to mirror that of graduates from US colleges and universities for whom the search for the right job, or sometimes just any kind of job, can be a long, tedious and angst-ridden process. I was interested to read about the job picture in China for recent grads because I used to teach at Jiaotong University in Shanghai, one of China’s most prestigious universities. When I taught there at the Management School in the 1990s a university education – whether at Jiaotong University or any of the other 50 or so colleges and universities in Shanghai – was regarded as a privilege and the last thing students had to worry about upon graduation was finding a job. For most the only concern was if they would be placed in a state-owned enterprise as opposed to a private company where salaries and working conditions were much better. But everyone got a job and quickly. It was very nice to see that, at least in China, where for centuries sitting for the Imperial Examination was the apogee of individual achievement, a college education was still considered valuable. And that is how I thought at the time. Sadly that no longer seems to be the case.

When you do business in China nowadays you may notice a restless quality among China’s young generation precisely because concepts like lifetime employment based on a college education no longer apply. The “Iron Rice Bowl” is broken. Young account managers and factory staff are always on the move looking for better and more lucrative opportunities. They are often not wedded to their present job. Be prepared for this accordingly and make sure your message is delivered loud and clear to a wide audience.

Here is another blog post about China’s restless generation.

job hopping in China



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