Zhang Yuting, 25, the proud owner of a master's degree in Russian and translation, has been hunting for a job for five months in Liaoning Province since graduation.
"I've only applied for State-owned and larger international companies. My dream job should offer me a certain salary and status, otherwise it will be a waste of the money I spent on my education," Zhang told the Global Times on Tuesday.
People like Zhang are called bishengke, a phrase that sounds exactly the same as "Pizza Hut" in Chinese translation and means "a person that does nothing after graduation." A growing phenomenon, it refers to the army of recent graduates who cannot find jobs or those who are still unemployed years after leaving college.
According to a report released by the Ministry of Education, 7.49 million college graduates entered the job market in 2015, the most ever and about seven times the number in 2001. Under pressure from the economic downturn and a significant glut of graduates, bishengke along with other educated youths are facing an uncertain and gloomy future.
"My mother gives me 4,000 yuan ($630) per month, which is more than the salary I can get from most companies," a recent graduate from Xinjiang University told the Global Times, adding that she feels in no rush to secure a job.
Bishengke may find themselves becoming alienated and detached from society, which harms their development, experts said.
But some coddling parents hold differing opinions. According to a thepaper.cn report on October 4, doting fathers and mothers are a key reason for graduates becoming bishengke.
Zhou Haiwang, deputy director of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Population and Development, told Global Times that many bishengke are only children and their parents are unwilling to let them go through the hardships of finding a job.
Another reason some graduates are unemployed is their unrealistic job expectations, Zhou added.
According to an employment report released by zhaopin.com, a Beijing-based job recruitment site, most graduates are looking for jobs with government departments, State-owned firms and larger international companies, but more than 40 percent of job opportunities are actually offered by small private companies.
"I'm not really cut out for low-paid jobs, plus it's humiliating to accept jobs such as being a salesman. There are plenty of jobs out there, but few can meet my expectations," Zhang said.
The unemployment rate for 16 to 25 years olds with a college degree or above was 5.6 percent in the first quarter of compared with 4.7 percent for those who didn't finish high school, Gan Li, a professor at Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu told Bloomberg Business on July 3.
"Many graduates make the mistake of assuming that their degree alone will qualify them for a job. Our company is seeking candidates with work experience and social skills, most graduates are not eligible," a human resource manager from the State-owned China National Petroleum Corporation told the Global Times.
Xiong Bingqi, dean of 21st Century Education Research Institute, told the Global Times that unemployed graduates should choose their first job according to their abilities and lower their expectations.
"Graduate unemployment is caused by many factors. Graduates should adjust themselves while the government should also take effective measures to deal with it," Xiong said.
With the economy growing at its slowest pace in decades, bishengke may find it's even tougher to get a job, Zhou said.
The Ministry of Education has announced measures aimed at helping graduates to find jobs, including providing funds for graduates to start their own businesses and offering them vocational help, but the effects of these schemes remain to be seen.
"Matching graduates' skills and the labor market needs is crucial for alleviating the bishengke phenomenon. The government should improve the quality of higher education in China," said Xiong, adding that job market requirements should also be taken into consideration when it comes to education reform, which would help with the unemployment problem.
"Parents should encourage their children to go out into the world and find a job to cover their own expenses, while graduates should adjust their expectations and be more realistic," Zhou said.