More than 100,000 people have signed up for a massive recruitment drive by Apple’s supplier Foxconn for the largest iPhone factory in China, according to Chinese state media.
The hiring spree comes at a time when Apple (AAPL) is facing significant supply chain constraints at the assembly facility located in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou and expects iPhone 14 shipments to be hit just as the key holiday shopping season begins.
“The quota is finally met. And our hiring process is now closed temporarily,” a Foxconn executive, Yang Han, in Zhengzhou told state news outlet Yicai on Thursday.
The news comes after a Covid outbreak last month had forced the site to lock down, leading some anxious factory workers to reportedly flee.
Videos of many people leaving Zhengzhou, capital of the central province of Henan, on foot had gone viral on Chinese social media earlier in November, forcing Foxconn to step up measures to get its staff back.
To try to limit the fallout, the company said it had quadrupled daily bonuses for workers at the plant this month.
“It was really tough,” Yang reportedly added. “Foxconn can pull through the labor shortage this time, [and] we have our government to thank.”
In the last few days, Chinese authorities have also taken the unusual step of calling on some community officials and military veterans to step in at the Foxconn facility.
According to a hiring notice posted Tuesday by the veterans affairs bureau of Changge, another city in Henan province, officials have called on retired military personnel to “take the initiative to participate in” going “back to work.”
“Due to the change of pandemic prevention and control policies, there’s a lack of production workers at Zhengzhou Foxconn,” the bureau wrote in a post on its official WeChat account.
It called veterans “an important human talent resource,” and urged them to “respond to the government’s call to work at Foxconn.”
Earlier this week, another Foxconn manager had told China Newsweek, a state-backed magazine, that the factory had a shortage of roughly 100,000 workers.
Foxconn did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.
Some local governments in Henan have recently also asked community officials to join the production line themselves, according to multiple Chinese state media reports.
Several unidentified such officials, also known colloquially as local “grassroots officials,” or “cadres,” told state media publication Cailian Press Tuesday that they were told to work at the Zhengzhou campus from one to six months.
Chinese state-run tabloid Global Times confirmed in an op-ed that some community officials had already started working there.
A vital hub
Zhengzhou is the world’s largest iPhone assembly site. It typically accounts for approximately 50% to 60% of Foxconn’s global iPhone assembly capacity, according to Mirko Woitzik, global director of intelligence solutions at Everstream, a provider of supply chain risk analytics.
Apple has warned of the disruption to its supply chain, saying that customers will feel an impact.
“We now expect lower iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max shipments than we previously anticipated,” the tech giant said in a statement earlier this month. “Customers will experience longer wait times to receive their new products.”
In the United States, the wait time for those models is currently 34 days, according to a report from UBS.
— Diksha Madhok contributed to this report.