Chinese graduates lose taste for entrepreneurship

University leavers becoming ‘more rational’ as country’s economy cools

September 28, 2022
Portrait of Asian businessman thinking when working on computer in office
Source: iStock

Fewer Chinese graduates are opting to start their own businesses, as university leavers aim for more stable employment in a cooling economy.

The proportion of graduates starting out as entrepreneurs rose from 0.7 per cent in 2009 to 2.1 per cent in both 2015 and 2016. However, it has dropped gradually since to 1.2 per cent in 2021, according to annual reports produced by MyCOS, China’s largest higher education research firm.

“The trend reached its peak with support of national policy and was driven by capital, but systematically, the general entrepreneurial education has not been improved and the challenges that graduate entrepreneurs face remained,” said Wu Yang, a supervisor of XbotPark, a start-up incubator in Guangdong province focusing on robotics and smart hardware that was founded by academics from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

“When the ‘start-up fever’ receded, graduates cooled down and became more rational when making life choices, such as going for stable and secure jobs or further education.”

Recent surveys have shown Chinese students placing increased emphasis on the job prospects attached to their choice of university and major as the country’s growth rate stalls to 0.4 per cent, the lowest in more than 30 years, apart from a brief contraction at the pandemic’s outset.

Education authorities have told universities to take action to help students find employment in an increasingly tough job market, with the number of graduates expected to hit 10 million for the first time. Unprecedented numbers are applying for postgraduate courses.

“Passion for investment has cooled down because of poorer market mobility. In China, effort and support is centralised in revolutionary innovation and projects against foreign technology blockades, so there is limited chance of success for businesses lacking creativity and technological expertise,” said Hu Weifeng, senior partner at Tedi World, a Dalian-based incubator specialising in university knowledge transfer.

“In general, the number of graduate enterprises has gone down, but their quality has been improved.”

The latest MyCOS survey, dating to March 2022, was completed by 125,000 graduates, spanning 407 academic majors in 30 provinces and districts.


Print headline: Chinese graduates cool on entrepreneurship

Register to continue

Why register?

  • Registration is free and only takes a moment
  • Once registered, you can read 3 articles a month
  • Sign up for our newsletter
Please Login or Register to read this article.

Related articles

Reader's comments (1)

Karen, I understand that employment, especially within the government is the cultural expectation so what's new? Entrepreneurship, ironically is what drives all economies. And if you are one of the few with a sustainable high growth opportunity connections are key to growth or survival so many without such fall.