China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security on July 22 and Tencent on September
5 disclosed that China has a shortage of 20 million senior technicians. Estimates are that the
number will hit 30 million in five years. “Senior technician” is now among the top 100 job
categories that are in the shortest supply. According to a survey, only one percent of workers in
China want to be a technician. As many as 90 percent believe that technicians have low social
status and low wages because generally, they do not have the education credentials of college
graduates. In China, skilled workers primarily come from migrant workers. As of 2020, nearly 70
percent of the total migrant workers have an education level of junior high school or below. As a
result, most technicians in China are low- and middle-level skilled workers. Senior technicians
account for only six percent in China, compared with Japan’s 40 percent and Germany’s 50 percent.
According to the International Labour Organization, of all skilled workers in developed countries,
35 percent are senior technicians, 50 percent are medium level, and 15 percent have a low level of
skills. Such a large gap creates a bottleneck in transforming and upgrading China’s manufacturing
industry. Workers’ overall quality and skill level are limiting how scientific and technological
developments translate into economic growth.

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