Foxconn, the biggest assembler of electronic devices for Apple, is to recruit 12,000 college graduates plus 6,000 students who have completed their studies at vocational schools in China this year. It marks the biggest college recruitment campaign undertaken by the giant electronics firm, which employs more than a million workers in its factories across China. This year is expected to be busy for Foxconn as Apple is likely to launch its iPhone 8 model in the second half of 2017, with the top-of-the-line model assembled by the Taiwan-based technology firm, also known as Hon Hai Precision Industry. Rise in protectionism will be tough on 2017 global economy, says Foxconn tycoon Terry Gou The recruitment provides evidence that Foxconn is not reducing its presence in China, even though it is considering spending US$7 billion investing in the US. The move could create thousands of posts as President Donald Trump calls for greater investment and job creation in the US. Terry Gou, Foxconn’s founder, said in speech in Shenzhen on Monday announcing the recruitment programme that it was time for Chinese college graduates to “roll up their sleeves and work hard” in his firm’s factories, helping the company and the Chinese economy. He compared the near eight million students graduating from Chinese colleges with cadets graduating from the US Military Academy at West Point. Foxconn’s 30-strong factories on the mainland were the battlefields for China’s young to prove and improve themselves, said Gou. An entry-level manual job at a Foxconn factory offers a basic salary of about 2,400 yuan (US$350) per month in Shenzhen, with incomes rising up to 4,000 yuan a month with overtime, according to recruitment notices. Gou’s comments come as the world’s second-largest economy is struggling to shift its economy away from heavy industry and low-cost manufacturing to high-tech industries driven by innovation. Gou is also trying to transform his company from a labour-intensive processing firm into a technology giant. “Upgrading manufacturing is our hope, but first of all we need to upgrade our talent,” Gou said at a research and development centre converted from a factory at the Longhua Industrial Park in Shenzhen. “When we are making new products, we need highly educated people. They have theories to refer to. We can provide [work] experience,” he said. Foxconn hits bumps in road to full automation Foxconn has hired 7,000 Chinese college graduates on average each year over the past decade, according to the company. “In the past, Foxconn were associated by people with hiring lots of farmers-turned-migrant workers. Now we hope to recruit graduates and engineers who come from the countryside,” said Gou. Outside Foxconn’s recruitment centre in Longhua Park, hundreds of migrant workers were waiting at noon for job interviews. The days after the Lunar New Year holiday in China are usually a prime period for factories to recruit, although some work has been automated at Foxconn’s assembly lines. “Dorms for men are full. For those who want accommodation, please come tomorrow,” a recruiter shouted though a loudhailer.