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Employment Conditions in Southern China

While China is the world’s workshop, within the country Guangdong takes the manufacturing helm. Indeed, the province’s market for domestic and export manufacturing remains strong.

“Clients remain confident about their order books, but they need to increase productivity as a way to compensate for rising labour costs,” says Christian Bloomfield, a Director at Michael Page in Guangzhou. “Now that they’re no longer able to compete so successfully on price, they can’t afford a high failure rate, so they’re focusing on productivity, efficiency and quality assurance.” The result, Bloomfield says, is a shift toward greater efficiency and continuous improvement.

Service jobs tied to manufacturing seem to be numerous. In fact, the coastal city of Shenzhen is increasingly moving into outsourced business services such as logistics, payroll, sales and marketing. Most service providers are entrepreneurial domestic players, not big multinationals.

“Only about 40% to 45% of our work is related directly to manufacturing; four years ago it was 80%,” says Mark Tibbatts, Regional Director for the Shenzhen office of Michael Page. “Of course, we do have several dominant teams covering engineering/manufacturing and procurement/supply chain, as well as a rapidly expanding team of IT and technology specialists to work with some of the big information and communications technology companies in this market.”

Tibbatts says employment conditions in Shenzhen are strong, having rebounded from a slowdown following the global financial crisis, which harmed many Shenzhen enterprises due to decreased demand from US and European retailers.

“Sentiment on China’s economy has been somewhat bearish for the past two to three years,” he notes. “But the headlines don’t affect our business.” For now, the US and UK economies seem relatively strong, and are lending support to Shenzhen’s economy.

For full details see the 2015 Greater China Salary & Employment Outlook report.