Nanny shortage hits Chinese cities

Thursday, January 6, 2011

BEIJING - With the holiday season round the corner, China is facing an acute nanny shortage! Even the promise of a decent salary is not enough to attract one.

The house service industry in major Chinese cities reported that there has be an acute shortage of housemaids ahead of the Spring Festival, according to China Daily.

Usually one month before the festival, rural women who work as housekeepers in the cities would return home to prepare for the family reunions.

The Chinese New Year Feb 3 is the most important holiday in the country for family reunions.

Hua Xin, general manager of the Shanghai Sheng Hua Home Service Agency, said since November, the company has received thousands of calls from people looking for housemaids.

“At least three clients are competing for one nanny, while at other times, each family is offered up to five choices,” said Hua.

Although clients have agreed to raise the salary for housekeepers, the demand is still too great, Hua added.

“There are fewer experienced housemaids available for my clients to choose,” he said.

Li Yan, a Shanghai resident, is desperate to find a nanny to take care of her two-month-old girl as she has to return to work in two weeks.

“I have been looking for a nanny for more than a month. But it is too hard to find an appropriate one, because the home service agency could not even give me some candidates to choose,” Li said.

In the Pearl River Delta region, the shortage of housemaids started in early December, the Guangzhou Home Service Association said.

Li Xiaokang, marketing manager at a house service company in Tianhe district of Guangzhou, said the number of calls for housekeepers has been increasing by 20 to 30 percent daily.

In Zhongshan city in Guangdong province, house service firms estimate there is a shortage of 10,000 housekeepers.

Mo Xiaoying, secretary-general of the Guangzhou Home Service Association, said the house service industry is special.

“In this industry, it is those who work as housekeepers that enjoy comparatively more liberty,” said Mo. “They have a say in choosing employers, and they can decide how long they want to work for them.”

So when millions travel before the Spring Festival for home, most housekeepers prefer leaving the cities early to avoid the peak to make early preparations for the holiday, Mo said. The shortage may probably ease in late February, Mo said.

Yang Huiqin, a housemaid working in Changning district of Shanghai, said she has decided to return to Anhui province in mid-January to prepare for the festival and for her daughter’s wedding.

“My employer has tried to persuade me to stay here longer, promising to raise my salary by 20 percent, but I just can’t stay,” she said, adding she has already bought a train ticket.

Filed under: Economy

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