'Waste of talent': Anger at top Chinese university graduate working as domestic servant

A highly qualified university graduate seeking work as a domestic servant has stunned many in China, even as the job market for graduates becomes increasingly challenging.
PHOTO: Handout

The résumé of a graduate from a top Chinese university seeking work as a domestic helper has stunned internet users, and is a sign of the increasingly competitive jobs market in China for new graduates.

Your Trust Home Service, a Shanghai-based high-end housekeeping company, released the resume of the graduate, whose identity was redacted, on a recruitment platform on Wednesday and quickly generated online discussion, news portal Thepaper reported.

Many were shocked to learn a graduate was working as a domestic servant.

“Please remember the most prestigious universities, like Tsinghua and Peking University, train talented people who are supposed to improve or change our nation, and to bring benefits to all our people. Isn’t working as a family tutor a waste of such talents?” wrote another person.

“The fact that a Tsinghua graduate ended up working as a family tutor is the result of strong competition in the job market,” another user commented.

The 29-year-old woman from Nanjing graduated from the prestigious Tsinghua University, ranked 15th best in the world by QS World University Rankings last year, with a bachelor’s degree, although it’s not clear which major she studied.

She described herself as being fluent in Mandarin and English, and good at cooking the foods favoured by many families in Shanghai and the surrounding Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces.

She expected to find a job with a salary of 35,000 yuan (S$7,200) per month, her résumé showed.

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A manager from the housekeeping company said she had already been booked by a client, the report said.

“Talented people like her are rare, but she is not the only one,” the manager told Thepaper. “We also have nannies with a master’s degree, including those graduating from top overseas universities.”

The high salary for a domestic worker triggered heated discussion on social media.

“She is not an ordinary nanny. She is basically a private teacher,” wrote one person at Thepaper. “Look at her payment. It is so high that what she earns is equivalent to senior managers at enterprises. I envy her.”

“We can’t judge whether an occupation is noble or degrading. It’s just a person’s choice,” a user said on social media app WeChat.

The manager said those domestic helpers with diplomas from leading universities are usually hired as family tutors, teaching children a range of subjects. They can be paid anywhere from 15,000 yuan and 50,000 yuan per month.

“Some clients’ kids study at international schools. So they require the tutors to speak English while teaching kids,” the manager said.

The number of university graduates in China has increased year on year over the past two decades. More than nine million students will graduate from universities this summer.

More than 40 million people have graduated from universities and colleges there over the past five years, with 77 per cent of them finding jobs upon graduation, the Ministry of Education said.

But the graduates’ salaries were not as high as many had expected. According to the Beijing-based consultancy Mycos, the average monthly salary for university graduates of Class 2018 and Class 2019 was 4,624 yuan and 5,440 yuan respectively.

Besides family teachers, some graduates took up other jobs that were deemed unconventional for people with university degrees.

Earlier this month, the China Youth Daily reported that some graduates had found work at pig farms.

To lure these graduates, the livestock farming companies offered 120,000 to 200,000 yuan a year for employees with a bachelor’s degree, 180,000 to 300,000 yuan for master’s degree holders and at least 300,000 yuan for a PhD holder.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.