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Nanny shortage hurts busy Shanghai parents
By Yin Ping (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-09-02 05:36

SHANGHAI: Parents in the East China metropolis are crying out for more professional nannies to look after their school-aged children.

Shanghai parents started noticing the shortage of nannies last month, but the problem reached a peak yesterday, when 1.6 million elementary and secondary school students returned to school and the working parents of many of them had no one to pick them up or drop them off.

A change in societal trends only exacerbates the problem. Grandparents, once reliable alternatives, are now less willing to shoulder the responsibility.

And so, the call goes out: "Wanted: professional, considerate, reliable nanny."

Zhou Ping, a career woman and mother of a 7-year-old boy, has been looking for a good nanny for some time.

"I'm too busy to pick up my son, and my parents are too old," she said. "We urgently need a nanny."

Many parents of his son's classmates face the same problem, Zhou said.

But the point is that parents do not just want any old nanny: They want someone considerate and reliable .

"We don't lack nannies; we lack qualified and responsible nannies, because parents hold their children very dear," said Zhu Wei, a director for Boni Housekeeping Service Co Ltd.

"We try to recruit relatively good housekeepers from the very beginning and train them, but there is not a good pool out there," Zhu said.

Li Rong, a director for Laibang Homemaking Service Co Ltd, has also felt the pinch.

"Every day we receive more than 20 telephone calls from eager parents, but only two or three are satisfied," he said.

Rural nannies from neighbouring Anhui and Jiangsu provinces make up about 60 per cent of this specialized work force in Shanghai.

Shanghainese nannies are preferred. They usually take children to their own homes first and feed them. But they account for only 20 to 30 per cent.

Increasingly, reliable "neighbourhood nannies" are stepping in to fill the gap.

One example is a couple in Pudong who own a small laundry house. The couple have long been helping parents in the same community by picking up their children from school. They bring them to their homes and see that they do their homework.

Another possible solution comes from retired teachers, who are considering stepping into the market.

Former teacher Cheng Guangyuan is one of them. He picks up two children from school and tutors them in English. He actually started taking care of them at his home during the summer vacation.

(China Daily 09/02/2005 page2)

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