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College graduation rate rises in China as earning potential sinks

By Chen Lidan (People's Daily Online)    15:54, May 24, 2017

A recent survey shows that the average salary offered to fresh Chinese college graduates is shrinking. In addition, a clear career path has surpassed good pay to be the No.1 factor for graduates considering their first jobs.

China’s education authorities estimated that a total of 7.95 million college students will graduate this summer, setting a new record. After studying the data collected from over 90,000 college students preparing to graduate, Zhilian Recruitment found that 73.5 percent of them will jump directly into the job market.

As usual, the new graduates will enter the market with high expectations but little chance of finding a suitable position. The average salary of those who inked contracts with new employers this year was 4,014 RMB ($583) per month, down by 751 RMB from last year. Less than 25 percent said the pay level matched or exceeded their expectations.

According to a similar survey by 51job, another online recruitment leader, the country’s slower economic growth is convincing more graduates to seek employment rather than continue their educations. Many plan to secure a low-paying job first to accumulate work experience, and then seek higher pay in a different position.

Salary is not longer the gold standard by which prospective employees evaluate an employer. Good pay still matters, but China’s university graduates are more focused than ever on whether their bosses can help them along a good career path.

The survey also found that the gap between graduates' academic concentrations and the skills their jobs demand has widened this year. As many as 38.5 percent of students accepted a job that has nothing to do with what they studied in college, 5.7 percent more than last year.

First-tier cities such as Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen remain the best cities for fresh graduates to find work, though second-tier cities like Hangzhou, Chengdu and Suzhou are quickly catching up. A narrowed income gap and reduced stress are the top two factors that make these smaller cities appealing.

Also of note is the increasing number of graduates choosing to take a gap year to figure out their careers. Near 10 percent of the graduates polled said they would take time after graduation to travel, spend time with their parents or prepare to launch their own startups.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Chen Lidan, Bianji)

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