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February 16, 2011

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Migrants struggle to find jobs

WHILE Shanghai appears to be suffering from a serious labor shortage, many migrant workers are finding it increasingly difficult to get suitable employment in the city.

A 36-year-old worker surnamed Jia from Guizhou Province began his job hunt about one month ago when he arrived in the city, but all of his efforts have so far been in vain.

Although there are plenty of job opportunities in the city, a lack of information on a suitable position is the biggest obstacle Jia faces as a first-time job seeker - with no proof of qualifications or education.

Government job placement centers, which offer agency services for free, require proof of migrants' qualifications and official documentation - something many are not able to provide. Private agencies pose a risk as they might want a high commission, deducted from wages or require a fee for their services.

"I feel uncertain now, it's hard to find a good job," Jia told Shanghai Daily yesterday at a job fair in Minhang District for migrant workers.

Considering the city's high living costs, Jia had salary expectations of more than 2,000 yuan (US$303) a month, but most companies willing to hire him offered less than that.

"I just want to make money," said Jia, who had been a welder in Guangzhou for years with a monthly income of around 3,000 yuan. "I'm here because I heard the wages could be higher."

As a first-time job seeker in the city, Jia admitted he had no idea how to or where to find a job. In Shanghai, most companies and factories release recruitment information through -government job placement centers and private agencies.

However, those government centers, which offer free services, need proof of qualifications and official documentation, which is difficult for people like Jia to provide, after years of working away from their hometowns.

The high charges of private agencies - sometimes up to 1,000 yuan - are mostly unaffordable.

Xi Jianghuai, 22, from neighboring Jiangsu Province, said that if he wanted to find work as a salesman for an international corporation, he would have to pay 800 yuan to a recruitment agent. "It's too expensive, but the number of positions advertised at the government center is really limited."

Chen Jiewei, a senior manager with China International Intellectech Group, said some migrant workers are often becoming picky when looking for jobs, which also partly explains the apparent labor shortage the city is going through this year.

Chen suggested employers raise wage levels, as most migrant workers value the salary offered over any other facet of the job. "We do however also encourage companies to offer other benefits such as better insurance and more holidays," Chen said.


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