“You paid and went to university and I didn’t, but our salaries are the same!” Cartoon from Global Times
Lately you can barely make it through a Twitter feed without reading something about the dismal job market for college graduates in China. Whether it’s flocking to US universities to boost their chances of employment or using their diplomas to compete for Ayi jobs, for the undergraduate in China, the situation has gone from discouraging to just plain bad. But migrant worker bad? From WSJ:
Despite entering a robust economy that seemed to weather the financial crisis as if were it a middling squall, China’s college graduates on average make only 300 yuan, or roughly $44, more per month than the average Chinese migrant worker, according to statistics cited over the weekend by a top Chinese labor researcher and reported today by the Beijing Times (in Chinese).
By Mr. Cai’s calculations, college graduates have consistently earned around 1,500 yuan a month since 2003. Migrant workers, meanwhile, have seen their monthly wages rise from an average of 700 yuan to 1,200 yuan over roughly the same time period, MR. Cai said, according to the Beijing Times.
Why the rapid growth in migrant worker salaries? A few proposed explanations include the recent spate of labor unrest, high-profile worker abuse scandals and a growing shortage of labor.
And where’s the love for the college grad? Why no increase in average income? Well, apparently those still unemployed and living in their parent’s basement can be blamed in part for suppressing the numbers. As much as one third of grads can’t find work their first year out of school. So when they do manage to find a job, it should actually pay more than 1,500RMB. Hardly a relief, and hardly enough to justify four years of extra work and tuition fees.
The study has sparked an intense debate over the merits of the Chinese education system, drawing over 1,800 comments on Sohu:
While some readers took the news with a certain post-Communist irony (“Our society has made progress-no longer does a diploma determine social status,” wrote one), the vast majority were cynical about the value of a college education. . . Complained another: “Of all universities in China, how many actually cultivate students? It’s all for money. What do college students learn? It doesn’t even compare to a high school education from before.”
Good point, and one that makes us wonder just how many of China’s super duper rich and successful people actually graduated from Chinese universities.