BEIJING, Feb. 22 (Xinhuanet) -- Labor shortage is a big headache for Chinese companies. Many businesses in the Pearl River Delta are struggling to recruit enough staff. And the situation is now spreading to other areas such as Anhui and Henan province.
Labor shortage is a hot topic in China and the issue is getting worse, as rural people are becoming less willing to move to the cities for work.
Lin Jiang, China Youth Univ. for Political Science, said, "Most migrant workers who graduate from high school have the ability to learn and acquire information. So there are more opportunities for them; they can make choices about what they do. Working away from home is no longer their only option, as they can start businesses in their hometowns."
Another reason for the labor shortage is that migrant workers don't want to be separated from their families - especially their children. Currently, about 58 million children's parents are working away from home. 40 million of them are under 14 years old.
Chen Jian, China Society of Econimic Reform, said, "Many social factors cause this problem. For example, if rural people work in the city, they can't take care of their parents and children - that's not a healthy family environment for children. So more people are choosing to stay in the countryside with their families."
So city life is no longer as attractive to migrant workers. But some experts say pay-rises could entice them to return.
Chen Jian, said, "The most important thing is to respect laborers' rights. By increasing earnings we also raise domestic demand. It's a win-win strategy."
As well as higher salaries, medical care, career training, and other resources should be made available to rural workers. Creating a good working environment and a sound welfare system is key.
Lin Jiang, said, "Some migrant workers earn the same amount of money as city dwellers, but they don't share the same sense of belonging. This feeling pushes them to return to more familiar surroundings. For example, many don't have the city hukou, so they worry about their children's education and retirement."
Today's migrant workers need more than their parents' generation did. The era of unlimited labor has become something of the past.