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Friday, August 5, 2016, 00:29

Study reveals decline in incomes of graduates

By Dara Wang and Honey Tsang

Study reveals decline in incomes of graduates

HONG KONG — The median income of tertiary education graduates in Hong Kong has declined by 17.4 percent over the past two decades, a study shows.

The study was conducted by New Forum and New Youth Forum, using employment data by the Census and Statistics Department on salaries of tertiary institution graduates between 1995 and 2015.

They found that the inflation-adjusted median incomes of these graduates have dropped 17.4 percent from HK$20,463 in 1995 to HK$16,898 in 2015.

The study also suggests that new graduates received lower entry-level salaries than their counterparts in previous decades. The entry-level monthly salary of graduates born between 1971 and 1975 was HK$12,141 in 1995. However, fresh graduates born in 1991 to 1995 got monthly pay of HK$10,934 in 2015 after adjusting for inflation – about 10 percent lower than 20 years ago.

A similar downward trend can be found for those with incomes in the top 10 percent of all degree holders. The monthly income of those top earners dropped from HK$40,927 in 1995 to HK$39,761 in 2015.

One reason for the shrunk incomes is that the proportion of graduates in low value-added jobs has increased a lot over the years, said Cliff Tang Wing-chun, deputy convener of New Youth Forum.

Study reveals decline in incomes of graduates
Students walk in front of a university logo in Kowloon Tong on Jan 13, 2015. (Roy Liu / China Daily)
Only 31 percent of tertiary education graduates occupied low-skilled jobs in 1995. But in 2015, the proportion climbed to 44.5 percent. And the number of such graduates in low-end jobs swelled by nearly 80 percent from 73,200 in 1995 to 130,800 in 2015.

At the same time, the income gap between graduates from tertiary institutions and those from secondary schools has narrowed. In 1995, tertiary education graduates aged between 20 and 24 earned 19 percent more than those who only finished secondary education, while since 2010 the median monthly income of the two groups are the same.

Professor Chan Lung-sang, deputy director and college principal at HKU School of Professional and Continuing Education, told China Daily that “an array of institutes have been rolling in, offering post-secondary programs which vary in quality in Hong Kong”.

Chan said that in recent decades, this type of education is still gaining recognition in the local market. Chan said it takes a considerably long time, 20 years on average, for it to be recognized.

The number of Diploma of Secondary Education graduates has been declining in recent years, suggesting less intense competition. This might further pose problems when it comes to the overall quality of students, Chan said.

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