GUIZHOU, Southwest China—Dressed in a casual black bomber jacket with her smartphone in hand, 22-year-old college student Li Manhong seems like a textbook example of a tech-savvy millennial. She uses all the most popular online platforms like WeChat and Weibo, and even those blocked in China such as YouTube and Instagram.

Li, a marketing major at Guizhou Normal University, in the provincial capital of Guiyang, is eyeing a master’s degree in psychology. To prepare, she’s taking a MOOC—massive online open course—in the subject, offered by Chinese internet giant NetEase. She’s also taking online classes to get ready for the College English Test (CET), which is a prerequisite for a bachelor’s degree in China. And, as an avid K-pop fan, Li is teaching herself Korean with the help of online language training platforms.

In many ways, Li is typical of China’s post-’90s generation: proud of their country’s breakneck economic and technological development as well as confident about their and their nation’s future. Yet while China is raising a generation of digital natives, beneath the surface many are woefully underprepared to staff the technological revolution that the government has promised. Unemployment among college graduates is high, largely because of a mismatch in skills, but also because of graduating students’ unrealistic expectations.

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Emma Lee

Emma Lee is Shanghai-based tech writer, covering startups and tech happenings in China and Asia in general. We are looking for stories related to tech and China. Reach her at lixin@technode.com.

Cassidy McDonald

Cassidy McDonald is a Beijing-based multimedia journalist who covers technology's effect on Chinese society. She tweets at @CMcD123.