At least eight million students aged between 16 to 18 are currently working on China’s assembly lines and workshops. Contrary to what many may think, it is not a case of child labour – these students are on internship.
In a report by Reuters, China is facing a labour shortage in many of its factories and assembly lines that require large numbers of workers to operate. The solution? Government officials such as those in Yantai, a northeastern Chinese coastal city, are ordering vocational high schools to send students to plug the gap.
That has led to multinational corporations and suppliers to take advantage of the millions of teenage students from vocational and technical schools to help them out with production. These schools often include mandatory work experience, which means that students must take on work assignments to graduate.
The Ministry of Education is commanding vocational schools to fill any shortages in the workforce. The minimum legal working age is 16.
Vocational interns are so sought after by companies because they can be paid less than full-time workers. Even if they pay the same base salary, employers can potentially save up to 40% per person because they need not pay for health insurance or social security benefits for student interns.
China’s assembly lines produce many of the world’s top products such as Apple’s iPhones, Nintendo Wii game consoles and Samsung’s electronic equipment.
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