Assessing Young and Student Workers’ Working Conditions in a Supply Chain in China

The Centre is conducting an assessment project focusing on young workers and student workers for a major international company’s supply chain in China. Focussed on young workers and student workers’ working conditions and identify potential risks, this assessment forms part of the company’s on-going diligence effort.


The issue of young workers in supply chains encompasses a broad range of issue areas and covers key manufacturing centres around the world. A key issue intersecting human rights and child rights is the systematic exclusion of juvenile workers (between 14 and under 18 years old) from the formal labour market including 1st tier supply factories, and the lack of support for young and student workers (between 18 and 25 years old). While vocational schools serve as a key source of human resources for industries in China, some internship programmes for vocational school students are poorly designed, exposing student workers to unsuitable or hazardous working conditions.


The project includes two phases: risk mapping and desk review for phase one and an onsite assessment for phase two. The Centre has completed phase one, where we worked closely with the company’s sustainability team to identify risks using past audit data, reviewed policies and procedures, and conducted focus group discussions with their different teams to assess their audit and supplier management procedures. During this process, we were also able to identify gaps and areas where the company’s policies, auditing programmes and capability building programmes should be strengthened.


The main findings from phase one will feed into the coming assessment for phase two. The Centre will carry out onsite assessments at the company’s supplier sites in China to obtain a detailed understanding of how young workers’ rights and risks are assessed and managed by their suppliers, while at the same gathering further insights into underlying risks. The onsite assessments will start with the company’s Tier 1 suppliers in China and then include other key stakeholders such as local schools, community leaders and peer companies.


Following the assessment, The Centre will highlight all the main findings on inherent child rights risks related to young and student workers faced by the company’s suppliers in China and provide recommendations to help suppliers improve their practices around the recruitment and employment of young workers. 

Published on 21/03/2022

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