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February 2, 2012

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Dragon babies set to create shortage of specialist ayis

A SHORTAGE of ayis is set to ease with the end of the holidays, but Shanghai needs more domestic helpers with specialist skills caring for babies and seniors, industry insiders said yesterday.

Household service companies said usually the ayi shortage around the Spring Festival lasts until the Lantern Festival, on February 6 this year.

After that, most ayis working in Shanghai return to the city, fulfilling the everyday domestic helper role most employers require.

However, a concern is finding enough ayis with specialist skills. Industry insiders said more ayis with child-caring skills will soon be required.

Shanghai is expecting a baby boom this year - the Year of Dragon, as many parents believe the dragon is an auspicious Chinese zodiac.

According to the Shanghai Population and Family Planning Commission, this year around 180,000 babies are expected to be born in the city - about 10 percent more than in 2011.

Not every ayi can meet the requirements of mothers, while those who are qualified expect a higher salary.

"Standard ayis can't take care of my baby," said Li Xin, a mother of a three-month-old child. "But professional ayis for babies want at least 5,000 yuan (US$793) a month, beyond my budget."

"So I have to take care of the baby myself, with help from my mom."

Ayis looking after seniors are also in short supply. According to the Yujiang Household Service Co, this group has more and harder work than other ayis, but as they do not get paid more, few ayis are willing to do the work.

"Some seniors suffer from poor health and have to rely totally on ayis," said Wang Liping, director of the company.

"But ayis earn only 2,000 yuan a month doing hard work."

Within five years, it is estimated there will be 4.3 million Shanghai residents over the age of 60 - some 30 percent of the registered population.

Household staff companies have called for better pay and training for ayis.


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