Flextronics International, the world's second-largest electronics manufacturer, will hire more than 6,000 migrant workers on the mainland this month, a hopeful sign for the economy as production picks up to meet Christmas orders. 'We are experiencing a massive ramp-up to staff our operations in China,' said Grace Wong Yat-men, the vice-president for human resources in Asia at Nasdaq-listed Flextronics. 'We are also optimistic about the opportunities next year will bring.' This is a slightly delayed start to the seasonal rebound in the hiring of migrant workers by mainland-based consumer electronics manufacturers, which typically take on more staff during the annual peak production period of June to September. Goods are usually shipped in October and November to be in time for the Christmas buying season in most parts of the world. A collapse in the export sector at the end of last year triggered the closure of many factories and led to massive lay-offs of migrant workers by the manufacturing industry. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said last month that up to 41 million mainland workers lost their jobs during the financial crisis, or 40 per cent of the total global lay-offs. However, an improvement in demand for exports has forced manufacturers to recruit additional production staff. Recent reports have said some manufacturers in the Pearl River Delta were having difficulty filling jobs as orders increased. Wong said Flextronics would hire an additional 1,000 migrant workers in the next two months, indicating bullish growth assumptions in exports from the mainland. Flextronics, which has operations in 30 countries, is seeing strong new demand in the personal computer, flat-panel television and mobile-telephone markets, according to a report from Longbow Research, a United States-based firm. Richard Wong, Flextronics' vice-president for corporate social responsibility and labour relations, said the company had been most active in hiring migrant workers at its six million square foot Flextronics Zhuhai Industrial Park. This facility accommodates up to 40,000 employees. 'For me, migrant workers are our unsung heroes,' he said. 'They've helped China become a manufacturing giant. Ninety per cent of our employees are migrant workers.' Key customers served by Flextronics include Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, LG Electronics and Microsoft Corp. Research firm iSuppli has estimated that more than 50 per cent of the worldwide contract manufacturing business was generated by companies with production facilities on the mainland. These include Flextronics, electronic manufacturing services market leader Hon Hai Precision Industry, Quanta Computer and Compal Electronics. Grace Wong said workers hired by Flextronics were rarely sourced from the same province where its plant was located. It usually recruits from Hunan, Hubei, Guangxi and Guizhou provinces. The National Bureau of Statistics has estimated about 225 million people, or 28 per cent of the mainland's rural population, are migrant workers. These workers account for 80 per cent of the manpower used in the construction industry, 68 per cent in the manufacturing sector and 52 per cent in the retail and restaurant business, according to state media. According to Amnesty International, the number of migrant workers on the mainland will reach 300 million by 2015.