Chinese graduates: the employability disconnect

Research output: Journal PublicationArticle


A decade or two ago, foreign graduates from mainland China were rare and highly sought after by domestic and international firms. Good jobs were easy to find and a foreign degree carried a distinctive advantage.

Today, it is much tougher with greater competition for jobs despite sustained rapid growth, at least by Western standards. For example, the 2019 Chinese university graduate employability report shows that the undergraduate employment rate has declined continuously over the last five years.

According to a recent Financial Times report, given the restrictions on post-study work in many countries such as the US and UK more and more Chinese graduates study for a masters degree overseas and then look for a job in China.

On the surface, China’s economic slow-down relative to the past (6% rather than 10% annual growth) can be blamed. However, our research and experience show deeper issues.

The employment challenges Chinese students face are the products of two major disconnects: first, between students’ focus on degree studies and their personal career preparation; and, second, between students’ study at university and what employers value in practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-27
JournalEFMD Global Focus
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2019


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