10 crucial issues concerning new migrant workers

By Zheng Fengtian
0 CommentsPrint E-mail China.org.cn, May 10, 2010
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The emerging generation of migrant workers aged 20-30 is presenting new problems for society. There are 10 main issues that we need to pay special attention to when trying to improve the life of the burgeoning workforce.

Change of values between the new generation and the old:

According to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, 60 percent of today's 145 million migrant workers were born in the 1980s or 1990s. Compared with the older generation, these younger workers have their own values and pursuits. The differences are generally in four aspects listed below:

First, the new generation has more knowledge and higher education than their predecessors. However, they don't know much about farming and have no affection to the farmland they grew up on.

Second, they have different motivations when moving to the cities. The older generation came to the cities with one aim in mind – to shake off poverty. Yet their successors seem to be more ambitious, wanting to broaden their horizons and gain knowledge by living in the cities.

Third, young migrant workers have higher expectations about their jobs. As opposed to their predecessors who work hard to maintain their employment in the cities, the youngsters come with set preconditions toward their pay and working environment.

Forth, the two generations have different consumption habits. To the younger generation, spending money on entertainment offered by city life is more acceptable than to the previous generation.

The new generation has become the mainstream of the country's industrial workforce:

Young construction workers and restaurant servers can be seen everywhere, especially in the Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta, two economic hubs in east China. This generation of workers is the mainstream of the industrial workforce. Therefore, it is of great importance to treat them like real workers and listen to their needs.

Young migrant workers have contributed to the global economy:

Chinese workers were honored by Time for their contribution to the world's economy during the financial crisis. They are deserving of this recognition. About 70 percent of China's economic growth last year was spurred by exports, which was in part from the cheap domestic labor force. Moreover, about 25 million workers lost jobs last year during the economic downturn. Yet social stability was maintained as the jobless masses went home quietly, posing no threats to their bosses or local governments.

The number of migrant workers is expected to decline:

According to the Economist, China's demographic dividend will reach its pinnacle in 2010 and then start to decline. As the huge number of migrant workers drops year by year, China will soon have a scarcity of workers.

Policies need to be adjusted in tackling the shortage of migrant workers:

In the beginning of 2010, the lack of migrant workers in most areas of China marked the end of an era where cheap labor benefited the economy. Adjustments that were made to policies in the past no longer have the same effects. The shortage of workers affects the entire country, including the western regions where many migrant workers come from. In order to improve the life of the workers, it is becoming necessary to gentrify rural areas and reform the residential permit system.

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