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Asian White collar workers face Unemployment and Low Wages due to Increasing College Education

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The spectacular growth in Asian economies like China,South Korea,HK,Taiwan over the last two decades has raised millions from poverty to a middle class life.This has led to increasing education levels among the new generation of Asians.Parents have poured a large part of their earnings into children education which was seen as a ticket to a better life.But many of these newly entered work force participants are not finding the pot of gold at end of the rainbow.This is because the population of college graduated workers has increased significantly putting  the laws of supply-demand against these workers.In fact  the wages of college educated workers have declined in some cases.

Perversely for the these educated Asians, the wages of Blue Collar workers has increased at a much faster pace compared to the White Collar workers.While the wages for highly in demand skill-sets and experience approach those of the western counterparts , the wages for those with little experience and “commoditized  college degrees” continues to remain stagnant . This has been the experience in many countries across Asia like South Korea , India,China.Here are some examples of this wage pressures at work

Unrest May Signal New Phase in China Economy  – NYTimes

One surprise of the strike here is that it involves laborers whose wages appear to have already roughly doubled in the last five years: blue-collar workers in export factories in the Pearl River delta region around Hong Kong.By contrast, the wages of young college graduates have actually declined in recent years as China has rapidly expanded its universities and built new ones, creating a surplus of more highly educated workers.

The president of a big Chinese corporation, who insisted on anonymity because of the sensitivity of labor issues, said that his company paid 4,000 renminbi a month a decade ago for recent graduates with computer science degrees, which is $585 at current exchange rates, and only 3,500 renminbi now.If anything, conditions are growing worse for new college graduates, not better. A survey in Beijing released earlier this month by the Communist Youth League Beijing Committee and the Beijing Youth Stress Management Service showed that a fifth of new college graduates with bachelor’s degrees and a tenth of graduates with master’s or doctoral degrees were willing to work for free in their first jobs because they despaired of finding paid work.

Here is a story from the Telegraph sent to the newspaper by student from JNU the most prestigious university in India

A student from IISWBM recently told me: “I had high hopes when I took admission in the environment management course. But even after passing out with more than 75 per cent marks, I have no clue what I should do for a career.”

Another student from Calcutta University accused the corruption within the system for the crisis. He said: “There is no place for a student of environmental science in any arena, whether the pollution control board, the civic bodies, the state environment department or the private sector. Even when a post is vacant, it is filled up by either an engineer or a graduate from a different discipline.”

The NGOs are also out to exploit the students by paying them meagre salaries. There are no posts under the public service commission examinations that require students of environment science.

Recently, I asked an M.Sc first-year student of environmental science at Viswa Bharati University about her career plans. She said her teachers have assured her a bright future five years down the line. Well, that’s exactly what we were told when we were doing our postgraduation in the subject five years ago. The truth is that the situation has not changed at all.

My question to all our teachers is, “When will this five-year planning materialise? When you are not sure about the future of students studying this subject, why do you offer them unrealistic dreams?”

The government must understand that it is not enough to introduce new courses in schools and colleges. Employment opportunities must also be created for students who put in their time and energy to pursue the courses.

Ma expects new graduates to push up unemployment – Taipei  Times

President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday instructed government agencies to be ready for the impact of an influx of new college graduates on unemployment levels.Ma said that while the government hoped to lower the jobless rate to 5 percent by the end of the year, he expected 200,000 college graduates to enter the job market over the summer and unemployment to increase as a result.

The Ministry of Education has floated the idea of bringing down the jobless rate by encouraging universities to offer one-year intensive programs to recent graduates, enabling them to continue at school for three more semesters and obtain a second bachelor’s degree.Siew said that “there is nothing bad about government taking over to close the gap” between what industries need and what students learn.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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