I just had conversation with a friend who is the CEO of a Shenzhen based fashion firm. She said that Shenzhen (and ultimately) Chinese manufacturers were facing two problems:
- Low level manufacturing was being relocated to countries like Vietnam, where wages were lower, and;
- Workers born in the 80s and 90s generation have higher quality of life expectations than do workers born in the 60s and 70s.
Her point, of course, was that the workers from the 60s and 70s not only built Shenzhen, but are also currently factory owners and the most active in society. Therefore they are not necessarily willing to offer workers from the 80s and 90s improved working conditions, including regular time off, air conditioned dormitories, and fewer roommates. She concluded that to be successful, Shenzhen producers needed to offer higher value, niche manufacturing that incorporated both industrial and social design into new business models.
This conversation chimes in on ongoing discussions I’m hearing about dormitories in Shenzhen. It is also reflected in Re/Code”s recently published article, “A Rare Glimpse Inside Foxconn’s Factory Gates” which shows the Taiwanese multi-national’s efforts to re-brand its Shenzhen campus, as a place where workers are well treated and therefore happy.