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Skills to match jobs

Updated: 2014-02-13 07:36
( China Daily)

A shortage of labor is becoming an increasingly common headache in the coastal provinces. The latest figures show that Guangzhou, Guangdong province, traditionally one of the country's main manufacturing centers, might face a shortage of up to 123,300 workers this year.

However, a 21st Century Business Herald editorial says the labor shortage is an unavoidable trend arising from the country's ongoing urbanization, and it advocates industrial upgrading and better training for workers so they are a better match for the jobs available as the country moves up the industrial value chain.

A major part of the labor force that has left the coastal factories now work in the inland areas, where fast urbanization is creating lots of jobs in the service sector. The better working conditions and similar salaries that are offered in places that are nearer their hometowns make these jobs more attractive than distant manufacturing jobs that feature hard, repetitive manual tasks.

However, these workers should be aware that in many small-and medium-sized cities that are without other industries, the service sector and its jobs might shrink as the mode of construction-led development approaches the end.

In the short-term this might be good news for coastal factories looking to ease their labor shortage, but it will not be sustainable in the long run.

Pushed by the labor shortage, some global manufacturing enterprises have chosen to move out of China into Southeast Asian countries that have an abundant low-cost labor pool. And, besides the shortage of labor, manufacturing industries face other problems, such as surplus production and the withering of global demand.

This poses the danger that there might be a surplus of labor in some cities one or two years later. To prevent that from happening, it is necessary for the government to accelerate the upgrading of industries and promote better skills training for workers, so as to form a virtuous circle of high-end industries developing with the support of a better-skilled labor force and offering more and better paid job opportunities for workers in return.

That is a necessary step for China to take on the road toward further development.