The NY Times has a great article on China and its new graduates: China’s Army of Graduates is Struggling. In the article, the author writes about how there exists a glut of college graduates whom the economy doesn’t yet support. People with degrees in accounting, computer programming, and finance are having trouble finding work. Factory blue collar jobs are booming, but the white collar sector is falling. The article says:
Between 2003 and 2009, the average starting salary for migrant laborers grew by nearly 80 percent; during the same period, starting pay for college graduates stayed the same, although their wages actually decreased if inflation is taken into account.
Chinese sociologists have come up with a new term for educated young people who move in search of work like Ms. Liu: the ant tribe. It is a reference to their immense numbers — at least 100,000 in Beijing alone — and to the fact that they often settle into crowded neighborhoods, toiling for wages that would give even low-paid factory workers pause.
I think things are different in India, where software and call centers are king. It reminds me of The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga–India has entrepreneurs. China has the infrastructure, but most of the economy revolves around manufacturing.
This is probably killing these graduates as much as anything else:
Their undergraduate degrees, many from the growing crop of third-tier provincial schools, earn them little respect in the big city. And as the children of peasants or factory workers, they lack the essential social lubricant known as guanxi, or personal connections, that greases the way for the offspring of China’s nouveau riche and the politically connected.
Maybe China has to do more to encourage entrepreneurship.
It’s very strange because I know lots of college grads here in the U.S. who don’t have full time (or sometimes even part time) employment. These poor people put tons of work into getting their degree, graduate with loads of debt, and can’t find suitable work. We live in a very different world now. People say that the jobs are all moving to China, but it looks like that’s just the factory jobs. The white collar jobs…well, those are all moving to India. I guess. Or maybe they aren’t moving anywhere, just disappearing?
I wonder if it’s true that education is oversold these days. I think college degrees do confer social status to their owners, but I wonder if the entrepreneurial instinct and experience is more important for financial success. It’s sad if that is the way we’re headed.