How Foxconn is Like a Salmon Boat

June 21, 2012

When I was in college (~1990) in California, the romantic summer job for those kids in desperate need of cash and willing to do anything to get it (like lose an arm) was to work on a salmon boat up in Alaska. I can’t recall the details, but basically you worked insane hours for six weeks stuck on a boat. Some of those jobs paid very well, you didn’t have the time or opportunity to spend your money, and you didn’t even have to spend your entire summer vacation doing so.

So here’s my prediction for future expats: internships in Asian factories. Might be here in China, might be elsewhere, and I don’t know which sweatshops will be around in a decade or two. But mark my words, this is eventually going to look attractive to Western kids with no other options:

Foxconn is a well-known company for many reasons. But it’s not necessary a company where students would like to do their internship. A report from Micgadget wrote that students from Xi’an Technological University don’t really have a choice. All students who enrolled from 2010 must take up an internship role at Foxconn as part of the school’s curriculum. Note that we aren’t sure exactly what kind of work they will be doing, but hopefully it is something they can learn from rather than just a seat on the assembly line. (TechinAsia)

No, really. Paid internships are getting hard to find in places like the U.S., and while the Foxconn wages of roughly $240/month are still way too low to attract American kids on summer break, at least there’s some money there. Let those wages rise a few more years and you never know. Give ‘em some iCrap at cost, and they’ll work for free.

Besides, a few years from now, Foxconn might start having trouble finding Chinese kids willing to take these jobs. Spin this as a great CV builder and life experience, and they’ll attract plenty of middle-class kids from the West. Of course, they’ll be terrible workers, but nothing’s perfect.

3 thoughts on “How Foxconn is Like a Salmon Boat

  1. Renaud

    Foxconn is already a salmon boat for its current Chinese employees, isn’t it?
    Most of them in the Shenzhen facility are migrant workers, ready to work long hours for a few years (not just 6 weeks) and then head back to their home town with some savings.

  2. Browse

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