What are people’s attitudes towards jobs in manufacturing?
Manufacturing jobs become unfashionable in China
[Wang Zengsong] will not consider applying for a full-time factory job because Mr. Wang, as a college graduate, thinks that is beneath him. Instead, he searches every day for an office job, which would initially pay as little as a third of factory wages.
… China is also churning out millions of graduates with few marketable skills, coupled with a conviction that they are entitled to office jobs with respectable salaries.
… In 2000, the prevailing wage at top companies for fresh graduates with computer science degrees was about $725 a month in Shenzhen, roughly 10 times the wage then of a blue-collar worker who had not finished high school, said an executive who insisted on anonymity because of controversy in China over wages.
But today, new computer science graduates are so plentiful that their pay in Shenzhen has fallen to just $550 a month, less than double the wage of a blue-collar worker. And that is without adjusting for inflation over the last decade.
Wages and working conditions are greatly improving for blue collar workers:
[Hongyuan Furniture] now offers newcomers 2,500 renminbi a month, about $395, before overtime. Six-person dorm rooms have been replaced with two-person apartments. Workers no longer have to hand over part of their wages to the foreman. Instead, the factory now pays a bonus to foremen of $8 to $16 for each month that a new blue-collar employee stays on the job. Yet the factory still struggles to find workers.
The company’s labor costs per worker — wages plus benefits — have been rising 30 percent or more each year.
A sense of entitlement and the one child policy seems responsible:
… young, educated Chinese without steady jobs pose a potential long-term challenge to social stability. They spend long hours surfing the Internet, getting together with friends and complaining about the shortage of office jobs for which they believe they were trained.
“Students themselves have not adjusted to the concept of mass education, so students are accustomed to seeing themselves as becoming part of an elite when they enter college,”
… many college graduates are only children with parents and grandparents who continue to nurture them into adulthood.
“Their parents, their grandparents give them money; they have six people to support them,” Ms. Ni said. “They say, Why do I need to work? I can stay home and get 2,000 renminbi a month, why should I get on a bus every day to earn 2,500 a month?” That is how Mr. Wang has managed to get by for most of the last three years without a job. Despite some grumbling, his parents send him money to help support his modest lifestyle.
Manufacturing jobs, however, are back in vogue elsewhere.