Business / Economy

Shortage of labor hobbles hiring at Beijing businesses

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-02-25 08:26

An acute Beijing labor shortage is hampering businesses, an employment specialist said, as a recent report showed that thousands of positions, especially in the tech and manufacturing sectors, are going unfilled.

The report by the Beijing Human Resources and Social Security Bureau earlier this month found positions in the software and IT sectors could not be filled, and thousands of positions for skilled workers in the manufacturing sector were also vacant.

In the first six months of 2014, the report said, Beijing companies will have 556,000 new positions, but the labor supply in the capital is less than half that at 218,000.

The report highlighted a 1,000 yuan ($165) increase in the average monthly salary for workers over the year.

The capital's IT sector has a predicted labor supply of about 45,000, representing a shortfall of 11,300 workers to fill positions.

"It's been really difficult for us to recruit expertise, especially middle and senior executives, as well as IT specialists and designers," said Zhang Qian from the HR department of BlueFocus Communication Group, a brand-management company in Beijing.

The service industry had 93,000 vacant positions for a labor supply of 63,000.

The general shortfall in labor supply is being felt by businesses.

The Qing Feng Steamed Bun Restaurant chain in Beijing struggled to find more workers after a spike in popularity following a surprise visit to one of its restaurants by President Xi Jinping in December, said Zhu Yuling, general manager of the restaurant chain's holding company, Beijing Huatian Restaurant Group.

"We have to increase salaries to attract more workers," Zhu said.

A factor in the labor shortage was an imbalance in educational priorities, with a greater focus on academic subjects at the cost of other subjects, according to Chen Yu, vice-president of the China Association of Employment Promotion.

"In a general sense, the output of our schools and universities don't match the requirements of today's employers," Chen said.

Amid the economic restructuring, certain industries have grown or are set to grow rapidly, but restrictions such as the household registration system make people hesitant to move to Beijing, he said.

Chen suggested that the government should improve employment policies and make information regarding worker skills more easily accessible.

In the long run, a better university education system that pays greater attention to trade and vocational studies would also help, he said.

Additionally, Zhang from BlueFocus said basic salaries should be boosted by between 10 and 15 percent and by about 30 percent for senior professionals.

Cui Shoufeng contributed to this story.

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