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China’s Graduates

China, Company Strategy, Economics
By John Richardson on 28-Jan-2013

China graduates at a job fair in Chongqing in November 2012

rexfeatures_1997478i.jpgSource of picture: HAP/Quirky China News/Rex Features


By John Richardson

CHINA sometimes seems like several different countries from the super-rich elite to the middle classes whose average annual disposable income is less than the cost of one square metre of an apartment in Beijing to the villagers in Hubei province, who were recently visited by president-to-be, Xi Jinping. These villagers, who live just 300 kilometres from the super-rich in Beijing, earn just Rmb 1,0000 ($160) a year.

And then there are the millions of college graduates in China, many of whom are reluctant to take factory floor jobs because of a cultural tradition that has persuaded them that they deserve white-collar employment.

But many of these graduates have taken vague business and economics degrees or very niche qualifications, such as three-year associate degrees in the design of offices and trade show booths, that make it tough for them to find white collar work.

“There is a structural mismatch – on the one hand, the factories cannot find skilled labour, and, on the other hand, the universities produce students who do not want the jobs available,” Ye Zhihong, a deputy secretary general of China’s Education Ministry, told the New York Times.

At the same time, China is producing hundreds thousands of brilliant science and engineering graduates that are great national resource.

Working out what such variables might mean for chemicals demand growth is mightily difficult.

Ignoring a task because it is difficult is, however, hardly a good idea.