Caught this SOOKSTV video being shared on Danwei, and felt it was well worth sharing. Very poignant mini-documentary on the difficulties faced by well-educated Chinese and their quest to find jobs that actually pay a decent wage.

China will be producing 6.3 million graduates this year. Figures from 2009 indicate 13% of last years 6.1 million graduates were unable to find a job. That’s 793,000 graduates without a job.

We take a look at the harsh reality of fresh graduates hunting for jobs in Beijing and the rising standard of living in China’s growing metropolitan city.

NOTE: It’s been available for months, but for some reason I neglected to mention it here that while is blocked, (a mirror) is not.


  1. It’s funny how it seem she thinks that having a masters should give you a great job so that you can afford Gucci and Prada? I’m sure that’s the case sometimes, but more often not. Advertising is a shiny industry on the outside. It’s their job to create a great feeling and experience of brands and wares, but to be in there it’s not so glamourous… I feel sorry for the students who think it is.

    • I found it was the same with journalism as well. A lot of “professional” jobs are like that I suppose, glitzy sounding to make up for the absolute crap work and pay that it actually entails.

      Still, its hard not to be a bit jaded if you spend 6 years dishing out crap loads of cash to get a good education, as you’re told that’s the ONLY way to succeed, and then you have to work at McDonald’s.

  2. While the fresh-graduate-employment issue is a big one in China, this video has a few questionable takes on the subject that undermine its overall point.
    1) Choosing the Guomao Basement Mall as the typical spot for lunch prices is completely biased. There are many, many independent Chinese restaurants in that area where a full meal can be had for between 10 and 30 RMB. This ignores the awesome quick/cheap fix of 1.5 RMB jianbing guozi that you get from street vendors. A similar analogy would be complaining about how expensive NYC is for fresh college grads by only sampling prices at Saks (? I’m not so familiar with NYC), when obviously there are lots of relatively cheaper alternatives if you’re willing to leave the glitzy mall.
    2) Clothes – well of course Gucci is out of reach for most, its a luxury brand. Not many 22 year olds in the US have the ability to buy luxury clothing or bags either, and usually go for more affordable brands, like most Chinese opt for knockoffs. There are plenty of places to get affordable, good clothing in Beijing (the tailors are great)!
    3) She didn’t find a job in 10 days?! Boohoo! Let’s get real, for many finding a job that really suits them can take several months, which is why people start applying and interviewing in their final semester.

    The point regarding the utility of her degree is good one, but holds as much weight in the West where many graduate only to find their degree relatively worthless or unrelated to the field they ultimately enter. This isn’t a problem specific to China, and like most of the issues raised in this video has more to do with unrealistic expectations than inherent gaps in the labor market (which there are, but they manifest in different ways).

    I think a far more interesting story about employment for new grads in China is that of ‘ant colonies’ springing up, which are more unique and potentially disruptive than anything mentioned in this video.

    Just my 2 cents…

  3. I agree with Brian’s point. The cafe in the basement of Guomao (or similar cafes around Beijing and elsewhere) is naturally going to be much more expensive. But as he said, in any of the side streets around there are perfectly decent lunches for 10-30 RMB – all inclusive.

    I think the problem is that expectations of high returns from higher education have grown much faster than the economy. The fact is everyone wants to believe their degree will entitle them to a high salary which will enable them to immediately put down roots as upper-middle class urbanites. This is unrealistic. While it is important to make people aware of the difficulties facing many graduates, graduates need to understand the laws of supply and demand. There are ever larger numbers of graduates, growing at a rate faster than the economy. This will hold down wages. Simple fact of life, a sad one, but a real one.

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