NANCHANG, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- At a job fair in eastern China's Jiangxi Province, hundreds of people packed a room where dozens of firms from the coastal province Zhejiang showcased their strengths.
In the past, in small inland counties like Shangrao where the job fair was held, people left towns after the Spring Festival for jobs in more developed coastal regions. But this year, the jobs come to them.
(File photos: VCG)
"It is a hard competition to find ideal workers nowadays," said Hu Zhiliang, who headed the enterprise delegation from Zhejiang, "We need to be proactive, and we cannot just wait for them to come to our doors."
Hu brought a total of 16 companies to Jiangxi and has already attended several job fairs across the province since last week.
China has one of the world's largest rural migrant worker population of around 280 million in its big cities, but as businesses in counties and towns grow, many turn to jobs closer to home.
"We plan to recruit about 200 people this year and are still 40 workers short," said Zeng Xiaowei, general manager of a company making copper pipe and fittings in Zhejiang.
Part of the competition comes from local companies, which are offering more job opportunities in recent years.
"I am not that curious about the coastal enterprises coming to our county to hire workers," said Zheng Xiaoping, a 24-year-old local college graduate attending the job fair. "Our hometown is getting better and better, and more people are choosing to stay."
Fueling the trend is a closing salary gap between the inland and coastal regions.
"The basic monthly salary at inland factories was around 1,000 yuan (149 U.S. dollars) five or six years ago, but now the salary is nearly 2,000 yuan, and a worker's total income can reach 4,000 to 5,000 yuan," said Zheng.
"That puts the salary gap to just around 1,000 yuan, and with some job positions, there's no gap," she said.
Going to local companies also means workers do not have to be far away from their families.
Lai Shuangshou, 43, quit his job and returned to Shangrao in August last year, and he is looking for a position in a local company so he could attend to his family, even if he earns less.
"I had night shifts and long working hours at my last job," Lai said. "But local companies usually take better care of our accommodation needs and children's schooling."
For local companies, working conditions have become an important factor to lure workers.
At a job fair held by Jiangxi Holitech Technology Co. Ltd., recruiters are often asked about whether they have wifi in the dorms, commuting arrangements or skill training.
"Employees' needs have diversified; they care about not only the money but also work hours, living conditions and work environment," said Sun Guangke, HR manager of the company.
His company has recently built a basketball court and provided home appliances like air conditioners and water heaters in the dorms.
"It doesn't matter if the salary is low at the moment," said Zhong Fangyong, a 22-year-old job hunter. "I want to find a technical post where I can learn things and have greater room for personal development."