Date
23 July 2018
The salary gap between college grads and those holding high school diplomas has fallen when one looks at their first jobs. Representational image: HKU Space
The salary gap between college grads and those holding high school diplomas has fallen when one looks at their first jobs. Representational image: HKU Space

College qualification isn’t worth that much in HK these days

Only 20 percent of Hong Kong young students gain admission to universities. The remaining 80 percent would go for associate degrees, professional diploma or advanced diploma courses. Still, a degree no longer guarantees a well-paid job any more.

New Century Forum, a pro-Beijing middle-class oriented political group in the Hong Kong, has divided college graduates into six generations to study their salary levels.

The first generation refers to those born between 1967 and 1971, and the sixth generation is those born between 1992 and 1996.

The study finds that the median monthly salary of college graduates fell to HK$17,475 last year, down nearly 10 percent from HK$19,255 in 1996. The decline would have been much more serious when inflation is taken into consideration.

Also, more college grads are working in less knowledge-intensive jobs, and the ratio has increased to 44.7 percent last year from 32.9 percent in 1996. The study defines managers and executives, professionals and professional assistants as knowledge-intensive jobs.

Last but not least, the sixth generation college graduates earn just 3 percent more than their peers with high school diploma, in their first job. The gap was about 25 percent for the second generation college students.

Such phenomenon can be partly explained by more supply of college students.

There were only two universities in Hong Kong before 1992. The number grew to 10 currently, not to mention an abundant supply of graduates in various lower-tier degrees and diplomas.

Meanwhile, technology has eliminated some white-collar jobs. At the same time, blue-collar jobs offered by construction sites, and catering and logistics sector are offering better remuneration amid a labor shortage. Thus, the narrowing gap.

Still, the value of a college degree may become more obvious over the long run as graduates advance in their career.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec 15

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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RC

Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist

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