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A study of career anchors, occupational and job preferences amongst undergraduates in China

McCabe, Thomas, J., Carbery, Ronan, Song, Haiyan and McCracken, Martin (2018) A study of career anchors, occupational and job preferences amongst undergraduates in China. In: 21st Irish Academy of Management Annual Conference, 3rd-5th September 2018, University College Cork, Cork. (Submitted)

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Abstract

Paper’s importance
The study examines the career anchors and explores the occupational and job preferences of undergraduates in China. We also examine and take into consideration demographic factors and issues around the cultural environment and context. We report the findings of a survey, measuring and examining the values of undergraduates in China, in relation to their career anchors, occupational and job preferences upon graduating and entering full-time employment.

Theoretical base
China’s economic growth can in part be attributed to an increasing labour workforce, one that is currently supplied by an ever increasing number of University and College graduates. The number of students graduating from China’s Universities and Colleges has been progressively rising, moving from less than one million in 1999 (Huang and Bosler, 2014) to 7.49 million in 2015 (Magnier, 2015). The Chinese government anticipates that by the year 2020, a total of 195 million college graduates will make up the Chinese labour workforce. This figure can be compared with a projected 167 million in the USA for the same period (Huang and Bosler, 2014). The rising supply of graduates in China combined with lower demand, has however resulted in lower wages for new graduates. Wages have reportedly dropped by 19 percent whilst unemployment has risen to 16 percent (Huang and Bosler, 2014). Also many graduates continue to turn down available roles and positions in manufacturing, in the hopes that they will get a government office job or a position in one of China’s many state-owned enterprises (Logan et al, 2015).

In a market where finding a job, indeed any job, is highly competitive, employers generally have a distinct advantage over prospective employees (Logan Chullen et al, 2015). Some experts have suggested that college graduates readjust their job expectations and develop newer, more reasonable career expectations and career development plans (China Daily, 2003).

However despite the high volume of college graduates, the employment market, in terms of recruitment and retention from an employer’s perspective, remains challenging and highly competitive (Logan Chullen et al, 2015). It is for this reason that the retention of highly skilled and experienced employees remains a key priority for Chinese business leaders (Ketter, 2008). A survey of Chinese employees has shown that one-in-four respondents have already held at least three or indeed even more positions. It also found that one-fifth of the employees surveyed had planned on leaving their current job over the forthcoming year (Ketter, 2008). A mismatch between employee job expectations with their work environment may play a significant role in explaining the high levels of turnover (Logan Chullen et al, 2015). Successful retention of workers often requires a good understanding of employee job expectations. This may involve employers tailoring and customising various aspects of the work environment to match the expectations of their employees. Business leaders and employers need to understand why employees choose to stay or leave their organisation especially if they seek to create a culture that fosters employee performance and retention (Logan Chullen et al, 2015). From a human resource development (HRD) perspective, Chinese firms need to understand the expectations of newly hired college graduate workers if they are to successfully attract and retain them (Logan Chullen et al, 2015).

Research purpose
Our study looks at the context in China, relating to recent developments in the University sector concerning undergraduates. The study looks at the career anchors, the occupational and job expectations and preferences of undergraduates, taking into consideration demographic and cultural factors concerning undergraduate students in China.

We look at and explore and look at the following research questions and hypotheses, aimed at examining, exploring and measuring career anchors, occupational and job preferences of Chinese undergraduates.

Research Questions

1. What are the career anchors of undergraduate students in China?
2. What are the future occupational, job preferences and expectations of undergraduates in China?
3. How important do Chinese undergraduate rate various aspects of their future work environment?
4. Do the job expectations for current Chinese graduates differ from those of previous years? And if so how?
5. Have the values of new graduates in China influenced their career anchors, and their future occupational and job preferences? If so how?
6. Are China’s graduates’ values collectivist or Individualist?

Appropriate methodology/analytical techniques
The study uses a questionnaire survey to address and answer the above research questions and hypotheses. The survey uses scales that examine, explore and measure the career anchors, occupational and job preferences of undergraduates in China. It also incorporates scales examining and measuring the cultural values of undergraduates in China. In addition to looking at Chinese cultural values the survey incorporates scales previously used by Hofstede, examining the cultural values of China’s undergraduates, to determine whether their values could be considered individualist or collectivist.

Findings / Implications for HRD practice / Conclusions /likely conclusions
The findings of the survey will be presented, reported, analysed and discussed in the full conference paper.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management > Human Resource Management > Careers
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races > China
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > Issues of Labour and Work > Classes of Labour > Graduate Employment
Divisions: School of Business > Staff Research and Publications
Related URLs:
Depositing User: CAOIMHE NI MHAICIN
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2018 12:27
Last Modified: 09 Oct 2018 12:55
URI: http://trap.ncirl.ie/id/eprint/3258

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