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To China’s New Graduates – Good Luck, You’ll Need It

Source | LinkedIn : By Gordon Orr

To everyone graduating from university in China I wish you good luck. You’ll need it, especially if like most, you have studied at a mediocre (yet still shockingly expensive) institution, and gained a degree in a subject that you didn’t really have an interest in when you started, and which no potential employer has much interest in either.

You face enormous family pressure to be seen to be successful, to pay off your debts, get on the housing ladder quickly, and more.  Yet just where the work opportunities to achieve this will come from is very unclear.

The government claims to have created 4 million new urban jobs this year so far, but no one seems to know just how many are working delivering e-commerce packages and on-line ordered dinners to your parents, but for sure quite a lot.

And that’s just the issue – there may be new jobs but they are just not the jobs you set your heart on when you went to university: low pay and low security is a poisonous combination of many of the new jobs in China’s “rebalancing economy”.

Those jobs for life with outstanding benefits that state-owned enterprises (SOEs) seemed to offer have evaporated.  SOEs have cut back heavily on their recruiting, and where they are hiring, they have been directed to first take on those from the downsized military.

And then there are the swathes of industrial SOEs—that just may not exist a few years from now– that are at the forefront of the government’s drive to reduce overcapacity, pushing hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of those who graduated before you back into looking for new opportunities.  And compared to you, these people have the benefit of real work experience.

Even the big service sector SOEs don’t seem to have rosy opportunities for new employees.  You use WePay and Alipay, and you probably use an online bank or at least use the app provided by your traditional bricks and mortar bank.  So just think about it, when did you last go into a bank branch?  Or into the branch of a telecom operator?

These jobs exist to serve maybe your parents, but more likely your parents’ parents.  You do the math, how long will they be needed.  Your parents have probably bought life insurance sold by an agent coming to their workplace or home. You think that’s quaint and would only ever buy such a product online.  Good for you, but again, not so good for the number of people needed to work at big insurers.  Actions have consequences.

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