Labor shortage haunts Yangtze, Pearl River Delta

21:07, February 15, 2011      

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Wang Lei (1st R) shows a cotton spindle to new recruits on a factory tour in Yiwu, east China's Zhejiang Province, Feb. 11, 2011. (Xinhua/Zhang Jiancheng)

Wang Lei made an early start on Tuesday morning. After a hasty breakfast, the 28-year-old grabbed a jacket and rushed to the Yiwu recruitment center. Brochures in hand, Wang waited outside the job center as other early birds arrived one after another.

Not a migrant worker looking for a job, Wang was a human resources manager at Yiwu-headquartered Langsha Group, China's leading producer of socks and stockings.

Handing out want-ads and briefing job seekers about vacancies available in his company, Wang said he barely had time to stop for a drink or lunch.

Though offering a generous pay rise of between 20 percent and 30 percent, Wang said it seemed very hard to recruit qualified workers.

Yuan's goal was to build a 10,000-strong workforce for Langsha Group, which meant he had to find 2,000 new recruits to fill in the gap.

Wang's difficulty was widely shared by other head hunters in coastal cities like Yiwu. With the rapid industrial development of the central and western areas, the labor shortage has been haunting the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta, twin engines of the world factory, since 2003.

The Chinese government's efforts to develop the central and western areas in recent year have greatly improved the transportation conditions and investment environment in the interior.

Many factories on China's coast have been moving inland, seeking to secure enough workers and cut production costs.

China's shrinking labor pool due to expanded college enrollment, which has soared more than seven-fold in the last decade, and the country's "one-child" policy, which has been in place since 1977, is also to blame for the worsening labor shortage.

Gobbling instant noodles at one of his company's recruiting points, Wang Lei said the recruit gap was narrowing down but he still had a lot of busy days ahead.

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