Creating a level playing field in the world of work

Wan Lixin
"That the physically challenged willingly and proactively proffer their labor to the market is inspiring and exemplary."
Wan Lixin

To an average office worker like me, a delivery job conjures up images of all kinds of hardship, particularly in this summer of record heat.

But it is one of the few sectors that keeps hiring, and it is not ferociously competitive as far as recruitment is concerned, though its mind-robbing monotony can be prohibiting.

Not so for Xu Shengliang, 27, an auditorily challenged college graduate. Thanks to an organization founded by Gu Zhong, a TV news anchor, he now has his perfect job — as a deliveryman.

For those who survive the hardships of the first month, the job gives them not only economic security, but also an identity, pride and a sense of satisfaction — people like them are more often the object of sympathy and societal charity.

As Xu, using sign language, said: “This is a job where hard work pays off, and I like the level playing field.”

Level, to a degree. Although paid the same rate for the same work, these physically challenged people meet with special problems.

Because they cannot hear, they tend to press doorbells for too long, and this can lead to complaints.

And there are a few residents who seem to derive pleasure by creating special difficulties for them.

If these residents were not so morbid psychologically, they could benefit from the example of Xu and his colleagues.

Gu’s initiative can be moralized from several perspectives.

Significantly, his effort taps into the national drive for poverty alleviation. Gu aims to build a labor force of 300 by the end of this year, with many recruits coming from Yunnan and Ningxia, regions paired with Shanghai in poverty relief assistance.

It is easy to see that physically challenged people in these regions are particularly vulnerable, and thus particularly worthy of assistance.

And in this time of hardship, otherwise healthy young individuals yearning for employment could take a cue from Xu by carving a niche for themselves at a time when many sectors are not hiring or shrinking.

The pandemic has significantly aggravated employment prospects for most job seekers. It is important to find a job and stick to it, even if the chance of finding a job that match your expectations are not so good.

I have a relative who, after graduating from college, was a pharmaceutical representative for a few years, gave up and then got married. After not doing much for several years, he is now devoted to bringing up his daughter.

In the region where he lives, privacy is not a feature of local life. I saw him once confronted by a neighbor: “What do you do for a living?” He equivocated, mumbling about something big on his mind. He still lives off the modest pension of his mother.

The diminishing will to work is not just restricted to him.

While scholars are still talking about the drivers of China’s economic growth over the past few decades, the contributions of migrant workers are undoubtedly not to be neglected.

Brought up in relative comfort and ease, the second generation of migrants are less concerned about work.

Thus when we discuss difficulties in employment, we are often really talking about the mismatch of available employment and the expectations of the potential labor force.

That the physically challenged willingly and proactively proffer their labor to the market is thus inspiring and exemplary.

It is also worth exploring if society in general can provide jobs more fitting for them.

Obviously, there is still room for creating incentives for employers to hire vulnerable people, and there is room for government departments to play an exemplary role.

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