Part of the problem lies with the students, too, who harbor unrealistic expectations, especially as China's economic growth loses momentum.
Chinese graduates are less willing than their Western peers to take blue-collar jobs, work in smaller companies or start their own businesses, hoping to land steady jobs instead in the government or high-paying white-collar work, Chen said.
"College students should know they are not God's gift and it's difficult to find jobs, so they can adjust their attitude and don't necessarily have to join the civil service or big state-owned firms," he added.
For instance, China's call-center sector needs 20 million workers to cater to its vast consumer population, but currently employs just 2 million due to a dearth of trained workers, says Yako Yan, chairman of the China Call Center and Business Process Outsourcing Association. "Call centres are technical labor ... graduates often don't have the technical ability. Some think it's relatively low-end and disapprove of it," says Yan.
That attitude and the harsher reality of China's jobs market today has left many graduates feeling helpless. In a changing market, many graduates with big dreams and high scores find they have few marketable skills.
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"What we studied has no use in finding jobs," said Xu Ke, 23, who was at the same Beijing job fair and is soon to finish her course majoring in general marketing planning at an agricultural institute in eastern Jiangsu province. "In college, we thought companies would be queuing up to hire us. Now, I just hope I can find a job soon."
Vocational vs academic
The government plans to reform the national college entrance exam system by setting up a technical training exam separate to the academic exam, Education Vice Minister Lu Xin was reported by Xinhua as saying. The ministry would also turn more than 600 local universities into higher-education vocational colleges, Lu said. China has 879 public universities and colleges, according to a 2013 ministry list.
"Vocational education has a bearing on China's economic transformation and upgrading ... and on the employment of hundreds of millions in the labor force," Yu Zhengsheng, the fourth-ranked member in the elite Politburo Standing
Committee of the Communist Party, told a meeting of the national political advisory body earlier this month.
The ministry declined to comment for this article.
In recent years, graduates from higher vocational schools, which rank below universities in the Chinese system, have consistently done better in finding jobs than standard college graduates, Lu told the People's Daily, the official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party, in a separate interview.
Apart from the economic concern, the government is keen to move graduates into suitable jobs to prevent any formation of a restive young population - which played a major role in the 1989 pro-democracy movement. For years, Beijing has encouraged students to accept more lowly positions, such as village officials, especially in the less developed western regions, and to start their own businesses.
About 80 percent of higher vocational school graduates last year found jobs, while only around two-thirds of college graduates secured work, according to a report from the 21st Century Education Research Institute. Vocational college graduates also had a higher average starting salary - at 3,291 yuan ($530) a month versus an average 3,157 yuan among students from China's top-100 universities.
"We don't necessarily need to sit in an office after graduating. I can start in the factories and work my way up, step by step," said Li, who hopes to pick up the practical skills that will allow him to move on to more advanced electrical work.