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Commentary: China faces an oversupply of college graduates and a shortage of skilled workers

ZHENJIANG, China: Deciding to pursue an academic or vocational training is not easy. Education costs time and money and should generate economic returns greater than the price paid to acquire it.

This challenge is exacerbated by global uncertainty, labor market mismatches and over-education. In China, many students choose to go to a vocational school because of their low academic achievement or rural-urban migration status.

But the data indicates that there is still an oversupply of college graduates and an undersupply of skilled workers. Chinese youth must face the fact that education no longer guarantees prosperity.

Following the global trend of rapidly increasing student enrollment in higher education, the number of university enrollments and graduates has increased significantly in China.

The increase has been so large that data from 2015 to 2017 showed that the share of university graduates aged 24 to 35 exceeded the share of lower secondary graduates – a clear sign of the consequences of the rapid growth of the economy. ‘Higher Education.

Mass education can compromise the quality of education and can jeopardize socio-economic development if the increase in student enrollment is not accompanied by a commensurate increase in human, financial and physical support.

The problem is further amplified when university graduates believe higher education is an elite education and refrain from the blue-collar jobs that offer the most dynamic opportunities in China.


The labor market situation facing young people in China is challenged by the lack of skilled workers. Data from the past decade show that among all people of working age, about 30% have completed lower secondary school, 14% have completed upper secondary school, and only 9% have completed upper secondary vocational education. .

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