Young Chinese workers don’t want to work in factories anymore. Terry Gou, founder and Chief executive of Foxconn, China’s largest private employer and one of the manufacturers for the iPhone and iPad, claims that Chinese millennials aspire to more than the low-wage, mundane factory jobs which were held by so many in the previous generation and which spurred China’s decades-long economic boom. Gau is now worried that the company will soon be unable to fill the low-wage factory positions that have been the bread and butter of employment in China for years. The FT reports:
“The young generation don’t want to work in factories, they want to work in services or the internet or another more easy and relaxed job,” he said on the sidelines of a meeting of Asian business and political leaders in Bali, Indonesia. [...]
While Foxconn has been lobbying the government for tax and other incentives, as it has typically received when expanding both within China and elsewhere abroad, Indonesian officials have been pushing the company to invest in research and technology to ensure Foxconn does not just open in Indonesia to take advantage of wages that are as much as 50 per cent cheaper than in China.
This is emblematic of larger shifts in China’s economy. As wages inch upward and the country becomes more prosperous, workers demand more: higher wages, better working conditions, more rewarding jobs.
Broadly speaking, this is a good thing for most Chinese, but for the country as a whole it’s a major shift, and it’s happening very quickly. The big question is whether it will be able to adapt soon enough.
[Chinese factory image courtesy of Shutterstock]