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China's manufacturing center woos new generation of rural migrants
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08:22, September 02, 2009

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Free meals with fruit, a dormitory with air-conditioning and TV, reward holidays --these enticing job conditions are offered on the vacancy board for migrant workers by a private shoe-making factory in east China's Zhejiang Province.

A surprising labor shortage hit the manufacturing center of Wenzhou in Zhejiang since the second quarter, and many private businesses are savvy enough to optimize work conditions to attract laborers, said Wang Ouxiang, deputy secretary of the Employment Service Center in Wenzhou.

"Factories in the city are thirsty for laborers, but the DongyiShoes Co. Ltd. did not have much trouble in recruiting as many workers as it wants, because the company can offer comfortable work conditions, which have become an increasingly important factor for the new generation of rural laborers in their job choice," he said.

He said the city has 150,000 job openings, as labor-intensive sectors such as garment, shoe, electronic and electric parts manufacturing industries began to recover.

According to Wenzhou customs statistics, the city's garment exports rose 10 percent in July from the same period last year, and are 12 percent higher than last month. The shoe exports gained2.7 percent year on year, and surged by 35 percent from June.

However, export-oriented garment and shoe making factories in Wenzhou, known as the cradle of Chinese private firms, are enjoying mixed fortunes.

"We are thrilled to see that new orders keep on coming. We have already had 50 percent more orders than in the same period of last year. The present priority is to hire more hands to cope with the orders," said Chen Aimin, a human resource manager in Zhejiang Kuoshuai Dress Co. Ltd..

He said the company needs to recruit 300 workers to beef up production.

Zhong Xianhong, a human resource manager in Wenzhou Changjiang Auto Electronic System Co. Ltd., had the same problem. He said the company needs 100 more workers and 30 technicians to catch up production for delivery.

"We have taken part in job fairs in the big cities of Hangzhou, Shenzhen, Shanghai and Wuhan, but failed to recruit enough workers," he said.

He said some companies even sent staff to labor-exporting provinces like Sichuan and Guizhou to recruit rural laborers.

"Migrant workers, especially the young generation of laborers, have become more choosy about their work environment, welfare and job prospects that employers can offer," said Xie Jian, an employment service staff.

He said compared to the old generations, young rural laborers are more educated, and less tolerant of hard labor in cities.

Zheng Chen'ai, head of the Wenzhou Chamber of Garment Industry, said that emerging manufacturing bases in far-flung provinces of Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunnan have become rival attractions for migrant workers.

"Factories in traditional manufacturing bases in the coastal region should make bolder investments in improving salaries, training and work environment to migrant workers in order to guarantee stable employment," he said.


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