Public interest workers: do aid-workers need to be aided?

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Compared to 2010, the number of people working in the public interest sector changing industry, organisation or returning to study rose by 64.5% in 2014. The first and most important reason for this was family opposition. The author suggests that if the public interest sector is unable to provide a basic standard of life for its workers and relies solely on their generous spirit, then it will not be able to develop sustainably.

The author tells the story of “Mark”, a person who worked in the public interest sector for 11 years who contracted leprosy and was unable to pay his hospital bills due to his low income and savings. Luckily for Mark, his friends helped pay his bills but due to the underfunding and underdevelopment of the public interest sector, others have not been so lucky. The author points out a contradiction inherent in the public interest sector: the sector is seen as “noble” but this nobility does not pay well, which means nobody wants to do it.

According to the 2014 China Public Interest Sector Talent Development Survey (2014年中国公益行业人才发展现状调查) 80.3% of the surveyed public interest managers believe there to be great problems in recruiting satisfactory staff. Of the surveyed public interest workers who left the sector, 31.4% pointed to family reasons as the cause, while 20% cited low wages. In 2014 the average wage for a public interest worker was RMB 3998 per month, a rise of only RMB 1089 in the four years since 2010. The author suggests a change is needed in both the public’s attitude to public interest, as well as to the industry’s conditions.

In Brief

This article is about the working conditions of public interest workers and the fact that more and more are leaving the sector for other jobs.
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