Retail in Asia

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China’s new generation picky about factory jobs

Many factory bosses in southern China’s Pearl River Delta – the nation’s biggest manufacturing base – are complaining about a severe shortage of workers. Their anxiety runs particularly high at this time of year, because migrant workers have just spent a few weeks in their home provinces for the Lunar New Year and may not return to their jobs.

There are many reasons for the worker shortage in once-booming coastal regions like the Pearl River Delta. Farm-friendly policies are keeping many people on the land, while other migrants are finding jobs closer to home as poor interior provinces become more prosperous. Infrastructure projects funded by China’s massive economic stimulus package have also attracted workers.

But another key reason is the changing labour force: more than half of China’s working-age population is made up of young people born in the 1980s and 1990s, whose attitudes and expectations differ vastly from those of their parents.