Amid China boom, job search for many grads goes bust

Fri Sep 16, 2011 12:18pm EDT
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By Michael Martina

BEIJING (Reuters) - Yan Minglong, one of millions of recent Chinese college graduates, is not impressed with the doors opened by higher education.

"Jobs? What jobs?" the 23-year-old said, whiling away his Saturday afternoon in a billiards hall in Shigezhuang, a gritty neighborhood on Beijing's northern outskirts where cheap rent is the main draw for some of China's white-collar hopefuls.

Students from the country's largest-ever college graduating class, 6.6 million, have gone from hitting the books to hitting the streets in search of work this summer.

But pouring that many graduates into an economy long known as the world's workshop has fueled worries about the market's capacity to absorb them and the potential for political unrest.

In a country where 80 percent of the population has not finished secondary school, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Yan is arguably among China's highly educated.

A graduate from a three-year automotive program at Hebei province's Jiaotong Vocational and Technical College, Yan has been working as a car repairman. He lives in a dormitory on the west side of Beijing with six others and pulls in about 2,500 yuan ($390) a month.

"How can I say I'm satisfied? Even after five years, I know my income will be basically the same as my friends who didn't study after high school," said Yan.

A 2011 study by the state-run Chinese Academy of Social Sciences paints a rosy picture of graduate employment, saying only 6.7 percent of 2010 graduates with four-year or vocational degrees were still looking for work six months after leaving campus.   Continued...

<p>Students attend their college graduation ceremony in Shanghai's Fudan University July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Carlos Barria</p>