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back to article Arts & social-sci students briefly forced to do useful work at Foxconn

A Chinese student forced to intern at Foxconn has complained that his two months on the gadget assembly line was like "military training" and unrelated to his degree, according to a local Chinese news site. A group of students at Xi'an Technological University have complained about having to do work with with the iPhone …

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Hang on a cotton picking minute.....

"" Train fares, paying for bedding and telephone bills and other expenses mean that workers sometimes barely make a profit. ""........

Is this not just like every other worker on the planet ?

You work, you spend money on stuff like, ooooh, living, and at the end of the month you realise, oh, shit, no money left.

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Meh

Re: Hang on a cotton picking minute.....

I dont have to spend all my money on rent in the city or on rail season tickets because I choose to live somewhere with reasonably priced accomodation and I cycle to work. Note the magic word "choose" there.

These guys, on the other hand,don't get to choose where they want to work, so they don't get the chance to avail themselves of opportunity that might involve cheaper (or free) accomodation and travel and the possibility of keeping a larger slice of their paycheque. They are required to indenture themselves to Foxconn or fail their degree.

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Re: Hang on a cotton picking minute.....

There is much in what you say, Piloti, but at least in a free society you get to choose how you end up with no money at the end of the month. But in a communist dictatorship, like China or Boston, you have no rights.

Still, at least the student is learning a useful skill, unlike our "social media" intern.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hang on a cotton picking minute.....

Wow those poor little pointless academics, they had to work for a whole 2 months.

The only thing that truly surprised me about this article is that China seems to have suddenly acquired a bunch of work-shy, worthless academics just like ~80% of the UK Graduates that cannot get a job once they finally leave school with no useful qualifications.

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University Not Receiving Money

"the university is not receiving any money for sending the students to Foxconn"

If so, then there are university and government bureaucrats getting bribes to enforce this policy.

It's particularly resented by [...] social sciences students, according to the Chinese news site, which reported that many felt the "work experience" was irrelevant to their studies."

Yes, because social science students are supposed study workers, not *be* workers.

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Sounds like an innovative and progressive way...

... to curb unemployment.

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The 'art of the matter

> arts and social sciences students, according to the Chinese news site, which reported that many felt the "work experience" was irrelevant to their studies.

A "proper job" might be irrelevant to these students' studies, but it will provide invaluable experience for what they'll probably end up doing after they graduate. As for the wages and deductions they get, isn't that just par for the course?

Maybe the UK could ship some arts and SS industrial placement students out to Foxconn for a taste of real-world jobs, too.

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Re: The 'art of the matter

A few people I went to school with did social sciences / art courses at college and uni.

Of those people they're currently split between the following jobs

Cleaner / janitor / fast food server / coffee barista / unemployed.

I can fully endorse taking these courses if you can make a career out of it, but 90% of the people who take them don't. It's just a waste of 4 years and a boat load of cash.

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Anonymous Coward

@wowfood

Not only that; making it even more obnoxious, they will probably never earn enough to the made to pay back those student loans/fees, so it will have to be paid for by the general tax payer...

..which will include all those cleaners/janitors/fast food servers/etc... that didn't waste vast amounts of time other peoples money.

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Flame

Re: @wowfood

and the really funny thing is that the amount the tax payer ends up paying will be several times the amount we used to pay per undergraduate when university fees were paid from general taxation

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Facepalm

Whut?

@wowfood: Does what they are doing now matter when they may have studied the subject because it interests them which I always thought was the main reason people went to college or university (apart from the drinking). It'd be a pretty shit world if people were only allowed to attend college or university on the proviso that they have to guarantee having a career in the subject they want to study. Besides I suspect most of your friends won't stay in those jobs forever and will find better jobs, perhaps ones involving their field of study.

@AC: Bollocks. Almost all of the people I know who studied arts and humanities degrees in the past few years are paying back their student loans at higher rate than they have to, much faster than my friends who studied IT or science at university as a matter of fact. I suspect that is because they have less of a tendency to piss their money away on shiny gadgets or online gambling.

That doesn't include those that saved up from part time work as a teenager or ran their own little businesses at that age to generate enough cash to go to university naturally.

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@snowlight

> Almost all of the people I know who studied arts and humanities degrees in the past few years are paying back their student loans at higher rate than they have to, much faster than my friends who studied IT or science at university as a matter of fact.

No, they're only doing that because they're not very good at maths.

A student loan is the cheapest source of capital an individual will ever get. The interest charged on it is guaranteed to NEVER exceed the rate of inflation (meaning that over time, it's value will decrease naturally). Therefore the best approach is to pay it back as slowly as the system allows and put any "surplus" earnings into a savings account to earn the ex-student a nice little slice of interest.

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Happy

Re: @snowlight

Eh, they'd rather not be in debt to anyone for any longer than is absolutely necessary, cheap sources of capital being something that doesn't particularly bother them as far as I can tell. They earn anough to pay it off quicker, save some and still have enough left to live somewhere nice and do fun things and that is what matters to them. People think about things differently sometimes *shrug*.

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Holmes

Hmmm sounds like ideal work experience for people who do arts and social science degrees, that or MacDonald's, as outside of academia where is the demand for those "skill" sets???

Bloody crayon botherer's and no shit sherlock's

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I know people with music degrees

who make >£150k a year.

The going rate for an in-demand conductor or opera singer is four or five figures per show.

If you take the time to visit the Royal Academy Summer Show, you'll see art for sale for five figures. And plenty of sales.

Arts courses are brutal on failures - unlike engineering, where you can be utterly mediocre and still make something approaching a passable living just by turning up every day and poking at a keyboard to produce crap that barely works.

Oh - and on a typical iPhone game, the art person will earn more than the code monkey. Especially considering you can hire in coders for < £10/hr.

If anyone is offended by this, consider what the world would look like with *no* art or design - no music, no architecture, no car design, no product design, no literature, no public or private art of any kind.

Doesn't that sound like a really appealing place to live?

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Someone has to win the lottery

but the odds are very much against it being you.

The going rate for Bruce Springsteen/Cher/pick-your-star per show is a hell of a lot more than your conductor. And there are a lot more of them than your conductor - a few hundred top-flight rock stars globally, compared to a couple of dozen top-flight conductors globally. But that's across the whole *world*, all 7 billion of us.

Further down the tree, there are a lot of musicians of all types who are making a living from it, varying from "I can afford a mortgage, life insurance, pension and school for my kids" to "I can afford a bedsit and a tin of baked beans". Even they are lucky to be doing so well.

Because further down the tree still are the vast majority who tried and failed at making a living from it. Last I heard on music tech courses, there were four-digit numbers of graduates per year, and two-digit numbers of jobs for them. Work it out for yourself.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I know people with music degrees

> Oh - and on a typical iPhone game, the art person will earn more than the code monkey.

As somebody who used to work in the industry and who still has many friends (both artists and "code monkeys") who still do I can tell you quite categorically that this is not true.

Lose an artist during a project and it is no big deal. There is disruption but it is minimal. Lose one of the lead programmers on the other hand and you have major disruption whilst you bring another programmer up to speed. The wages reflect this.

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Trollface

Re: I know people with music degrees

Preach it! If we had no artists who'd run Starbucks and Costa? I can't survive without my coffee.

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"Doesn't that sound like a really appealing place to live?"

What, a world in which things are what they are, no more and no less? Sign me up! Hell, I'll go back and strangle Wright, Pei, and Mies van der Rohe in infancy, just to make a start -- you just lend me a time machine, and I'll get started...

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WTF?

Nothing shocking here.

So China is Corrupt (someone makes money to fuel Apple's low cost manufacturing)

Apple manufacuring is corrupt in supporting such actions (but recent reports have shown this is now well known, and probably not just apple)

Waste of space courses have their students doing a normal boring job and then complain about it.

Nothing so far is shocking me with this.

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Re: Nothing shocking here.

So your home and PC is completely free of Foxconn's handy work?

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FAIL

No, It's not relevant to your learning, but you better get used to it. These are the sort of menial tasks they will be doing for the rest of their lives with these useless qualifications.

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Anonymous Coward

Experience

I would have thought that social scientists getting their hands dirty and directly experiencing the working conditions of the normal working (wo)man would be an invaluable experience for them.

But then I guess if they had wanted to be productive members of society they would have picked a different degree.

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Coat

Students perform tasks like trimming the edges off a mobile phone

"So what do you do for a living?"

"Well, I'm a iPhone Smoother! And I don't actually make a living from it!"

Mine's the one covered in flakes of iPhone casing,

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Happy

Re: Students perform tasks like trimming the edges off a mobile phone

So those rounded corners are actually hand-rounded from boring old rectangles by liberal arts student slaves?

To hell with mechanised mass-production, that's real quality for you.

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jai
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Interns barely making a profit from summer work?

Interns barely making a profit from summer work?

And that's different to how it was when I was a youngster how? Just because it's China doesn't make it different from how it is in the rest of the world.

You're an intern, you're not supposed to be making the big bucks. And you've chosen a crappy degree, so get used to not earning the big bucks!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Interns barely making a profit from summer work?

Did you ask to be an intern? Did you willingly turn up in the hope that working for free now would give you valuable experience and also look good on your CV when applying for paid work? Or did the government force you to go with the threat of failing your degree if you don't? Big difference

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Megaphone

Re: Interns barely making a profit from summer work?

TWO MONTHS WORK!

Sorry for shouting but many of the retarded comments here make it sound like they were sent to a forced labour camp for 4 years.

By the time they had done their inductions, received training to learned how to use the machines and do a remotely passable job, they probably cost Foxconn money.

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Anonymous Coward

What next?

Forcing the unemployed to work for no wages providing security for the Olympics?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What next?

There was a lot more behind that story than made the papers, and what was reported was sensationalised way beyond the reality.

Although these people may not have earned monetary rewards, they got some important and quite valuable certification and a license from doing this work that would then make it possible to actually get a job in the security field, ensuring future work.

I am an IT contractor, and used to being expected to pay for my own training, and last year I was offered some training and contact with a new technology as long as I did not bill for the days I spent doing it. This was attractive to me, as although I worked unpaid days, I did not have to fork out for the cost of the course (which even if it were available outside the vendor - and it isn't, would have been more expensive than the lost earnings). I see this as no different from what these security personnel had to do.

I can see the point of interns complaining about having to do work unrelated to their degrees, however.

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Surely all the companies using Foxconn...

...should be looking towards more ethical suppliers.

Its the only way to stop these kind of stories.

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Anonymous Coward

Students Complain At Having To Do Work!

This is news?

The overall idea that students have to experience real work not related to their field of 'study' is a very good one. Particularly arts and social sciences students.

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Re: Students Complain At Having To Do Work!

Not so very long ago the Chinese were forced to refine steel in their own back yards, and doing manual labour was the most highly regarded form of employment.

Truly, Maoism is dead.

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No profit ?

No profit ? - they got Food, Heating and Shelter - the 3 essentails.

plust phone calls too ! bonus!

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"workshy students"

I take issue with some of the comments above. The student in question wasn't workshy - he simply resented being made to work for peanuts and for it to be deemed academic credit, especially since there was not even the thin veneer of being associated with a production management qualification. He wanted to get academic credit for doing UNIVERSITY COURSES and spend his vacation time WORKING on his family's farm. This is not the same as a UK student who just wants to spend the summer on Facebook and Cityville.

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Re: "workshy students"

Since when do internship have something to do with what a student is studying?

There are western countries that require everyone to do national service. Greece requires a whole 9 months of national service which if you try to avoid it you're not leaving the country and if you're outside of the country you better be ok with losing your passport.

Quite frankly I have no sympathy for them. Of all of the problems with China this doesn't even register and maybe they'll help improve their country for the poor if they have to experience how they have to work for the rest of their lives.

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