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February 15, 2017

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Companies face post-holiday worker shortage

AS the Spring Festival holiday ended, Chu Shanfeng, recruitment director of Jiangsu Lianfa Textile Co, went to central China’s Henan Province to employ some migrant workers.

However, the recruitment drive was not all he expected. He found only five workers after attending several job fairs.

Chu was offering a bus to pick the workers up and take them directly to the factory in Jiangsu plus a bonus of 400 yuan (US$58) if they work for more than six months.

The job fair attracted more than 210 employers, offering over 10,000 job opportunities. To hire more migrant workers, Chu’s company promised a high salary, social security, medical insurance and housing subsidies, but job seekers were still holding out for a better deal.

“We had planned to hire 100 workers,” Chu said.

In recent years, as labor-intensive industries have transferred their operations from coastal to inland cities for lower labor costs, more migrant workers are seeking jobs closer to home, said Liu Peifeng with Henan Department of Human Resources and Social Security.

In 2016, Henan had more than 28 million migrant workers, 17 million within the province and 11 million elsewhere, according to the department.

Since 2011, migrant laborers in Henan have outnumbered those outside the province. In 2016, 90 percent of new migrant labors chose to stay in the province and more than 760,000 returned to start businesses there.

Even so, for Henan firms, the recruitment picture is not much better.

“We planned to hire 250 people at this fair, but we have only found 20,” said Wan Jilong who runs a vegetable processing works in Huaiyang. “Some of them may not sign with us as they want a higher salary. Younger workers are paying more attention to career prospects and asking for better wages and conditions. Many firms can not meet their demands and recruitment is pretty hard.”

By contrast, job seekers flocked to the recruitment stall of Henan LESSO Industry, a company based in Huaiyang County manufacturing plastic pipes.

“We offer a high monthly salary compared with other firms in Huaiyang, as much as 3,500 yuan,” said a company representative. “Apart from that, we provide staff dormitories and entertainment facilities such as basketball and badminton courts and a library.”

At the job fair, 100 people signed agreements with the company in less than an hour. “It is not hard to hire enough workers if you offer good conditions” the representative said.

“The new generation of migrant workers have become the main power behind China’s migrant workforce. Unlike the previous generation, they pay more attention to prospects, salary and welfare,” said Liu.

Employers should change their old concepts in hiring migrant workers, understand new demands and provide better welfare packages, Liu added.


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