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University Graduates Earn Little More Than Migrant Workers

The migrant worker says the the university student: "You spent money to go to college, yet your income is the same as me who did not go to college!"
The migrant worker says the the university student: "You spent money to go to college, yet your income is the same as me who did not go to college!"
The migrant worker says the the university student: "You spent money to go to college, yet your income is the same as me who did not go to college!"
The migrant worker says the the university student: "You spent money to go to college, yet your income is the same as me who did not go to college!"

From Southern Weekend:

University graduate starting salaries close to those of migrant workers: Why go to college?

The gap between the starting salaries of Chinese university graduates and the wages of migrant workers is gradually closing, according to Cai Fang, a member of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress and head of the Institution of Population and Labor Economics of CASS (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences). Though he stresses that college graduates after a few years of working have far more salary raise opportunities than migrant workers, [this phenomenon] may still produce a kind of negative incentive effect: “Why go to college?”

China Youth University for the Political Sciences held the “Chinese Youth Forum” the day before yesterday.  Cai, Fang expressed during his speech that China’s demographic dividend period has passed, resulting in a labor shortage. At a certain level, this creates job opportunities, lifts wages, and and closes wage gaps between certain industries.

Cai Fang provided some statistics: Statistics for 2003, 2005 and 2008 showed that the average starting salary of college graduates stayed around 1500 yuan per month, but monthly wages for migrant workers rose from 700 yuan to 1200 yuan. Though the wage gap between these two broadened in the year 2009, the overall trend is that the gap is closing. He says, “China has never before faced this kind of situation, and it’s hard to predict how long it will last.”

Though Mr. Cai stresses that college graduates after a few years of working have far more salary raise opportunities than migrant workers, and that the investment in a college education will pay off eventually, he still worries this phenomenon creating a negative incentive effect. People may ask, “Why go to school?” This will lead to people dropping out of school earlier to make money earlier. “Why have children go to school? Why go to college? Then it’ll be why go to high school?”

Comments from Southern Weekend:

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pamam:

At the end of the day, this is just discussing the issue of the utility of education. Education still has various important uses. Of course, if you can’t even feed yourself, you’re not going to have any energy to discuss anything else.

machy:

Even after having attended college, what use is it?

After graduation, “worked” at home for over a year before landing a job as a worker in a factory, wage barely over 1000 a month. [Going to college] only means that my education is higher a bit, which only serves to satisfy my vanity!!!

oneboat:

Actually, as a college student who hasn’t yet graduated, I’m really very worried about the future. The starting salary for college graduates is indeed not very high, and we’re no match against migrant workers when it comes to enduring hardship. However, these two types of people go into entirely different fields, and at a certain level cannot be compared. If this gap does exist or is getting worse, I can only say there is something wrong with our country.

militia2008:

If starting salary alone is used to reject [the value of] a college education, then this is truly a national disaster.

darkside:

Don’t reject what you have already received. It is not what you have learned itself that is not good, it is that you are not using it well.

jk15818:

This is the disastrous consequence of education commercialization!

Education is always an undertaking, a lofty/noble undertaking!

eshe:

These days, those that can be called real universities (training actual useful people for the future) can be counted on one’s hands and feed. The rest are just places where people waste their time. Some people are willing to spend money to go in and learn something useful and then begin working. Usually good occupations/industries (that require advanced studies) have good wages, so many people think going to college will result in high wages. But actually it is not like this. The point of going to college is because the work require higher learning ability, and more specialized knowledge, in order to work better. But the pay for this work may not be much, and the demand for certain occupations can be saturated. Going to college and high wages cannot be equated with each other. (This is why some people who have not gone to college can still become millionaires, whereas some who have gone to college can only go sweet streets) Moreover, the older they are, the more they treat getting into college like “taking the imperial examination”, believing that getting into college will automatically result in glory and wealth [in the past, passing the imperial examination often resulted in government posts that were accompanied with stability, privilege, and wealth]. Actually, China there are many jobs in China that are less demanding but no one is willing to do them.

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