THE GRIND : It is not as if young Chinese do not work hard. From an early age they face enormous pressure to do well at school and ace China's notoriously tough university-entrance exam known as gaokao.

Nearly 13 million youngsters took it last year. Many of them will have spent years cramming at the expense of other activities.

YET there is a growing feeling among young people that no matter how hard they work, they will not be rewarded with a better quality of life.

They speak of neijuan, or '' involution '', an academic word used to describe a situation in which extra input no longer yields more output. The idea was captured in '' A LOVE FOR DILEMMA '', a popular TV drama released in 2021.

In the show, two characters liken the competition in educational attainment to an unruly audience at a cinema : someone stands up to get a clearer view,  which obliges everyone behind them to stand.

Then people climb on seats on ladders. But in the end, despite all of their effort, no one is able to see the scene any better.

The data support this sense of neijuan. As the number of university graduates has increased, the number of jobs for which they are suited has not risen at anywhere near the same rate.

It has not helped that a large number of youngsters who decided to extend their studies during the pandemic are also now joining the job market, creating an even bigger surfeit of graduates.

ONE problem is a mismatch between the skills that graduates are acquiring from school and those required by employers.

According to one academic study of Zhaopin, a recruitment portal, 39% of job - seekers in first-tier cities had at least two surplus years of education, over and above those required by the jobs they sought.

Outside these big cities, the proportion was more like 70%. Tales abound on social media of educated young people taking low-skilled jobs, such as sorting trash.

One cigarette-maker hired students with master's degrees for its production line.

This Master Essay on Jobs, Global Economy and Times, continues into the future. The World Students Society thanks author The Economist.


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