“The rejection of grinding factory work by Zhu and other Chinese in their 20s and 30s is contributing to a deepening labor shortage that is frustrating manufacturers in China, which produces a third of the goods consumed globally.
Factory bosses say they would produce more, and faster, with younger blood replacing their aging workforce. But offering the higher wages and better working conditions that younger Chinese want would risk eroding their competitive advantage.
And smaller manufacturers say large investments in automation technology are either unaffordable or imprudent when rising inflation and borrowing costs are curbing demand in China’s key export markets.
More than 80% of Chinese manufacturers faced labor shortages ranging from hundreds to thousands of workers this year, equivalent to 10% to 30% of their workforce, a survey by CIIC Consulting showed. China’s Ministry of Education forecasts a shortage of nearly 30 million manufacturing workers by 2025, larger than Australia’s population.”