The economic future of the second largest economy in the world, China, appears dozy as the growing mismatch between jobs and education has left the youth stuck in a cleft stick.

The rural-urban divide among millions of Chinese youth, owing to the expensive academics in China has resulted in undersupply of skilled labourers in the country, thus affecting the already hampered economy amid other factors, Financial Post reported.

Every passing year Chinese youths are forced to choose higher education courses on the basis of their low-income backgrounds. That in turn is leading to lower academic performance. As a result, the question millions of youth in China face after completing high school is whether to pursue academic or vocational education.

The academic route in the country is very expensive and time taking. However, the returns are not very encouraging considering scores of skilled youth with college degrees compete for low-level jobs.

On the other hand, youth prefer vocational education because it is tailored to the skill sets needed for available jobs in the labor market. But these are low-paying and lack opportunities for career growth.

The youth who come from rural areas prefer vocational education because of their low academic rankings. This overall employment challenge is exacerbated by global uncertainty, job market mismatch, and overeducation.

However, China still faces an oversupply of university graduates and an undersupply of skilled workers, and the job market situation in the country is challenged by it, Financial Post reported.

A latest data showed that the share of uneducated workers in China’s labor force is “larger than that of virtually all middle-income countries”. There are roughly 500 million people in China between the ages of 18 and 65 without a high school degree.

According to available data, “Across all working aged people, around 30 per cent completed lower secondary education, 14 per cent completed academic upper secondary education and only 9 per cent completed vocational upper secondary education”.

There has been a significant “shift from an economy dominated by lower-educated workers to higher-educated ones, reflecting an overall improvement in the quality of labor supply”.

There has also been an increase in vocational upper secondary graduates and vocational university graduates in the younger generations.

But the increase is more a result of government policy that aims to balance vocational enrolments and academic enrolments nationwide than individual decisions. Students are simply reluctant to choose the vocational track.

According to a research paper, “the number of university enrolments and graduates increased dramatically in China”, following the global trend of rapidly increasing student enrolment in higher education.