Wages have been rising fast in China, and companies are struggling to improve productivity of their workers to remain competitive. There is still much to win, says business analyst Shaun Rein, author of The End of Copycat China: The Rise of Creativity, Innovation, and Individualism in Asia in Business Week.
(Hong Kong´s) TAL is one of several companies trying to squeeze more productivity from its Chinese workforce. The effort by factory operators in industries such as apparel, toys, and electronics is largely a response to rising labor costs. According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, urban manufacturing wages rose 73 percent from 2009 to 2013, the latest year for which data is available. “You can’t waste labor, because wages are too high now,” says Shaun Rein, managing director of Shanghai-based China Market Research and author of The End of Copycat China. “The typical Chinese worker is about a quarter as efficient as a German or an American factory worker,” he says. For companies looking to boost productivity, Rein says, “there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit,” such as investing in worker training and automation.
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