Chinese graduates of Australian universities are ill-suited to their country’s workforce needs, often applying at the wrong time, in the wrong way and with wrong credentials for the most promising job openings. Research by Beijing-based recruitment platform Lockin has identified a “mismatch” between the career aspirations of Chinese returnees from Australian universities and the qualities sought by employers.
Lockin’s appraisal adds to fears that the perceived diminishing value of overseas degrees is threatening Chinese enrolments, which generated more than 10 percent of Australian universities’ revenue in 2020, and as much as 30 percent in some institutions.
“While many international graduates still enjoy an edge in salaries in China, it can often take them longer to land their first job compared to domestic graduates,” says the report. “Their time abroad can mean they… lack connections and relevant experience. The timing of their applications may also be out of sync with Chinese domestic campus recruitment schedules.”
The analysis found that three-quarters of Australian returnees last year had sought positions in the investment and finance sector, which accounted for only 9 percent of job openings. Roughly four times as many opportunities are available in China’s “vast” technology sector which has dominated the graduate employment market for at least half a decade.
The analysis identified other “pitfalls and challenges” for returnees from Australia, who tended to have relatively poor English skills and unrealistic salary expectations and lacked insights into Chinese career structures and resume protocols.
And while rankings drive many Chinese students’ university choices, their prospective bosses are far more interested in their demonstrated ability to work. Some 17 out of 20 employers last year expressed “clear preference” for internship experience — about one-third more than in 2017.
Shane Dillon, Vietnam-based founder of recruitment platforms JOB+ and Cturtle, says employability and return on investment are “critical” to international enrolments. “An employer’s top priority is skills and the best way students can show this is through work experience,” he says.
The study analysed job applications from more than 1 million graduates of foreign universities, including 200,000 who had studied in Australia.