November 23rd, 2010 | Global Times Blue-collar jobs nothing to be ashamed of
Many fresh college graduates are whining nowadays that in the current labor market they are priced less than vegetables, a metaphor for the declining starting salary for college graduates.
Meanwhile, another noticeable phenomenon is the shocking labor shortage in the manufacturing zones in Eastern and Southern China. Factories have to woo workers with better welfare packages and compensation.
Behind the contrast is the persisting concept in China that favors brainwork over manual labor. Blue-collar jobs are simply not a choice for urban kids, and the thinking also extends to rural youngsters. Young people accept nothing below junior office work no matter how frustrated they become with job hunting.
With universities and colleges churning out 3 million graduates every year, many compete for low-end white-collar jobs, even though many housekeepers are enjoying a white-collar salary now.
To a large extent, the long time contempt toward manual labor stems from its low compensation. Throughout Chinese history, as a country built on agricultural economy, education had been the privilege for an elite few and was the only way to step into a leadership position.
Today, massive industrialization has disintegrated China’s traditional social structure, but obviously, the dislike of blue-collar work stubbornly persists. The idolization of management jobs still permeates throughout Chinese society.
Given China’s economic structure, its continuous growth cannot advance without a sustained supply of high quality blue-collar labor. In the long run, a large number of blue-collar workers will still be a necessity in China no matter how successful it becomes moving up the industrial chain. The world just cannot take in every Chinese worker as designer or manager.
There is nothing to be ashamed if you work with your hands. This long twisted concept that looks down on an honest day’s work has to be corrected. The change is important for the country to balance its job market and solve the problem of insufficient employment for college graduates.
Rising salaries reflect the real value of blue-collar jobs. It is necessary to further promote a skilled labor culture. The quality of China’s economy is not built on innovation alone, but also on the quality of its labor.
The dream of being a white-collar country will not come to fruition.