CHONGQING -- China's young generation are losing interest in entering the manufacturing industry, a trend further hampering prospects for economic growth as a labor force shortage looms large.
"In the past two years, fewer and fewer new graduates have chosen to work in factories, and the people we recruit now are mostly rural migrant workers over 35 years old," said Zhang Shuyu, human resources director of an auto gears company based in Chongqing, Southwest China.
Zhang used to have a large pool of candidates to choose from, but the trend now has reversed, even provided with more favorable welfare packages.
During a Chongqing job fair in early January, an aluminum processing plant offering workers a monthly salary from 2,800 yuan ($450) along with free food and accommodation received applications from only 20 high school graduates.
On the other hand, a real-estate corporation hiring property management personnel with a salary of 2,500 yuan reaped hundreds of applications, many of which were from college grads.
For many Chinese youth born after 1980, manufacturing represents an arduous yet underpaid career, so they are increasingly interested in cushy jobs in the service sector, according to Song Fei, a division head of the Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Bureau of Chongqing.
Song attributed the change to low payment and noted that China's manufacturing is still at a labor-intensive stage.
Compared with their predecessors, China's post-80s and 90s generation place more value in the working atmosphere and self-development opportunities, something often ignored by factory managers, said the HR chief.
China is facing a shrinking work force.
At a news conference a week ago, China's top statistics official, Ma Jiantang, revealed that the country's working-age population dropped in 2012, for the first time in decades.