China has a shortage of 10 million senior technicians, according to the Report on the Development of Chinese Talents, published by the Social Sciences Academic Press earlier this year.
The lack of senior technicians is not new in China. The question is how come such a problem has persisted in spite of the continuous government efforts to address it.
First, demand for senior technical staff has been constantly on the rise during the transformation and upgrading of China's manufacturing industry; second, few people are willing to be a technician, owing to the lack of recognition of, and respect for, the profession. Parents prefer their children to enroll at universities rather than undergo vocational education, regardless of the difficulty college graduates have finding employment.
In addition to low social status, technical workers often have limited space for career development. A technician may spend his or her whole working life doing tedious labor in a factory and often working overtime. It's no surprise then that college graduates would scramble for a white-collar job with a monthly salary of 3,000-4,000 yuan ($434-579), while a technical job with a monthly salary of over 10,000 yuan ($1,448) has few applicants.
Therefore, to fundamentally solve the problem, a social atmosphere which values craftsmanship and respects technicians should be created. In addition to increasing technicians' income, hurdles hampering their career development should be cleared to enable young people to have confidence in the prospects of the profession.
(This is an edited excerpt of an article published in Guangming Daily May 3)