Thousands of Chinese soldiers retire every year. Source: AFP PHOTO / CHANDAN KHANNA

How the sharing economy is helping China’s retired soldiers

SOLDIERS are the pride of a nation. And whether it is India, China, or America, the reality is, many of them need to work in order to earn a living post-retirement.

Unfortunately, the skills they hone in the army aren’t always what civilian corporate entities are looking for.

In China, however, technology seems to be helping retired soldiers find and get accustomed to a new trade.

A recent report issued jointly by Didi Chuxing and China Veterans Employment and Entrepreneurship Service Association (CVEESA) claim that 3.9 million military veterans now work as drivers for the Chinese ride-hailing company.

According to the report, the number of retired People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers working as Didi drivers represents up to 6.8 percent of the total number of retired soldiers.

Analysts who compiled the report believe that the growing trend provides new evidence that the sharing economy can help solve the long-term problems of Chinese veterans finding work after they finish military service.

Figures gathered by the South China Morning Post (SCMP) suggest that China has 57 million veterans.

The strength of the retired workforce grows significantly each year since the government is trying to cut the size of the armed forces by 300,000 and hoping to build a leaner and more efficient fighting force instead.

According to the joint-report issued by Didi and CVEESA, retired soldiers working for Didi receive high passenger ratings on the platform, with 98 percent of bookings processed by these drivers getting a five-star review.

The team that studied the numbers for the report attributed the high ratings to the military training that these drivers received during their service to the government.

About 57 percent of veteran drivers had more than 10 years driving experience, which was 9 percent higher than the average of all drivers on the platform.

The report estimated that the monthly average income of retired soldiers who drove for Didi for more than eight hours a day is RMB 14,000 (US$2,058), according to the report.

That figure, fortunately, is comparable to the average salary for Beijing workers last year of RMB 8,467, according to the Beijing Bureau of Statistics. This indicates that the retired soldiers are able to earn a decent living for themselves via the platform.

But it’s not just Didi that can help veteran soldiers in China earn a living.

According to a report by eMarketer About 700 million Chinese, or half of the country’s population, used sharing services last year, compared to just 26 percent of US adults.

Another report issued by a State Information Center, China’s sharing economy expanded by 47 percent last year and is expected to grow by an average annual rate of 30 percent over the coming five years.

Figures from the Sharing Economy Research Center suggests that the sector will grow at an average annual rate of 40 percent over the next few years to account for more than 10 percent of the country’s GDP by 2020.

As a result, other services and platforms can also help China’s retired soldiers find an economic opportunity in the country’s booming sharing economy.