Teachers shape secondary students' career development for social mobility with equal opportunities in a cohesive society. Concomitantly, young people have recently marched against socio-political challenges to the development of civil societies in different locations. A cross-case study of career education in different schools of a Chinese society was conducted to explore a paradoxical dilemma between teachers' inclusive development of the education for every student and the missing social inclusion of the society in an adverse socio-political situation. Students should be prepared for the sense of social inclusion. Implications of the dilemma for cultivating a cohesive civil society are also discussed. Copyright © 2022 Pergamon-Elsevier Science.