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Young migrants' job hopes often unrealistic
2013-02-26
By Liang Yiwen

WEARING pink and red clothes, Liang Xiaozhen and Li Qin quickly stood out among the migrant workers newly returned to the city in their black and dark gray down jackets and carrying heavy luggage at a job fair held at Shanghai Railway Station yesterday.

It's not only because Liang and Li wore brightly colored clothes, but also because they are among the young faces - those born in the 1990s - at this special job fair for migrants workers. Many of the workers have recently returned from their Spring Festival holidays in their hometowns to continue working or to find a new job in Shanghai.

Like many others, Liang and Li were searching for their Shanghai dream. The two young women are natives of central China's Henan Province and began a migrant life when they were only 15 or 16.

Their salary expectations are for no less than 4,000 yuan (US$642) a month - what they had earned in southern Guangzhou City selling clothes. But they were happy with none of the 400 kinds of jobs offered at the fair.

"The jobs here are not my type. I don't want to be a waitress or assembly-line worker. I love beauty. Selling clothes is more fun than most of the jobs here," Liang said. "I know Shanghai has a wholesale clothes market on Qipu Road. We've decided to take up our old business and use our sales skills to make money," she said.

Around 3,000 migrant workers yesterday visited the job fair, where more than 100 companies from Zhabei, Jing'an, Jinshan and Baoshan districts offered a total of 6,000 positions.

They ranged from front-line operators like waiters and delivery couriers to the domestic help, technical work and sales management jobs that demand higher skills and better educational backgrounds. The average salary was from 2,000 yuan to 3,000 yuan.

Younger workers could learn from Wang Weifeng, the 34-year-old father of a one-year-old girl, who is looking for a better-paying job to improve his family's life. Wang, a Zhejiang Province native, has worked in Shanghai for 10 years.

This is his fourth job hunt. He wants to land a job as a senior accountant with a salary above 5,000 yuan (US$801.70). His latest job was as a junior accountant at a small firm, making 4,000 yuan a month.

His wife's salary in sales is not very stable, he said. They spend about half of their salaries on their mortgage. Their daughter's birth adds an economic burden and prompted Wang's latest job hunt.

But he found his education a big obstacle. Most firms require a bachelor's degree or above, while he attended a three-year program. He is now in a part-time bachelor's degree program.

Acting in 'more fickle way'

"The young migrant generation acts in a more fickle way than the old generation," said Wang Lingyun, an official with the migrant worker management office of Zhabei District Human Resource and Social Security Bureau. "Growing up on the fruits of their elders' work, many young migrants have had little pressure in life as they grew," Wang said.

Yu Manli looks like a downtown girl in her pink coat. The 22-year-old just got off the train with her parents from her hometown in Wuhu in east China's Anhui Province.

Yu's father was employed by a road construction company in Hongkou District and her mother cooked meals for a small company. They left no one in Anhui. "Only the elderly stayed. The village is emptied," said Yu's father. The middle-aged man said he came to Shanghai more than 10 years ago.

After graduating from middle school, Yu went to a vocational school to study computer design. She quit her former job, with a salary of 2,300 yuan per month, at a computer company because it was too "boring."

Yu said she didn't find the job she liked at the fair. "I didn't have a clear idea of what I want to do, but I know what I don't like," Yu said.

Yu's parents said they wouldn't interfere. "She is the apple of my eye. I want her to do whatever she likes and live a happy life. That's the reason I left home and came to Shanghai more than 10 years ago."

Wang said he had noticed many young migrant workers are unsatisfied. "They should learn from their elders, who have done extraordinary things in ordinary positions. There are also better-paid jobs if young migrant workers are willing to learn more skills," he said.

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