Afternoon Coffee: AP says China’s forced labor aids tech firms; coronavirus news updates; Toptal, Guidant partner to ease talent shortage

The Associated Press has another report about China and the use of forced labor from thousands of people from the Uighurs ethnic group. The AP reports that forced labor is used in Nanchang, China, to make computer screens, cameras and fingerprint readers for tech companies like Lenovo, Apple, Dell and others. Apple didn’t respond to questions about which factories it uses there, the AP said. Other tech firms said they would look into the matter, the news service said.

The AP reports: “Over the past four years, the Chinese government has detained more than a million people from the far west Xinjiang region, most of them Uighurs, in internment camps and prisons where they go through forced ideological and behavioral re-education. China has long suspected the Uighurs of harboring separatist tendencies because of their distinct culture, language and religion.”

Toptal, Guidant partner up

Toptal — a leading digitally enabled network of vetted, global technology, design and business talent — and Guidant Global, a worldwide provider of talent acquisition and managed workforce solutions, have announced a partnership. Guidant’s customers will now have on-demand access to Toptal's talent network to “meet talent needs faster while ensuring compliance,” according to the announcement.

Michael Kearns, Toptal’s VP of Enterprise, stated: “We are excited to deliver an on-demand solution to Guidant Global's end clients, giving them access to previously unavailable talent. We are committed to delivering faster access to these experts, as well as cost savings and structure around risk mitigation and compliance when the need to hire highly skilled talent arises."

Guidant Global COO Brian Salkowski said: “The demand for skilled freelance talent who are able to navigate the fast pace of continuous technology innovation is critical in today's economy” and our customers. “This partnership with Toptal,” he said, “builds a whole new sourcing channel for our customers to be able to gain access to these experts in the most transparent and cost-effective way ever seen."

The Toptal and Guidant Global partnership represents another example of an innovative digital workforce platform provider and a long-established workforce management service closely cooperating. Last September, we covered the partnership between Upwork and Workforce Logiq. With demand for talent — in certain categories, such as digitally skilled talent — seriously outstripping supply, we expect to see more of these partnerships to open up alternative, digitally enabled talent sourcing channels (as we predicted in in our 2018 multi-part series, The Digital Evolution of the Contingent Workforce Supply Chain.

Coronavirus news

U.S. senator asks Amazon to stop third-party sellers from price-gouging

Sen. Edward Markey has written to Amazon.com asking it to stop third-party sellers from price-gouging for items like Purell hand sanitizer as concerns over the coronavirus. A box of small Purell bottles that usually sells for $10 was listed online for $400, he said. Another third-party seller listed a bottle for $600. However, the Amazon brand of hand sanitizer was listed for $8.25 for a large bottle. Amazon called the price-gougers “bad actors.”

Supply-and-demand cycle that drives global economy is at risk

The outbreak of the latest coronavirus, COVID-19, has not only disrupted global supply chains but is now threatening to lower consumption and demand. All of which is making investors to reprice equities and bonds to account for lower company earnings.

The stopping of goods production in Chinese factories has deprived  companies elsewhere of the materials they need for their own businesses. With the virus no longer contained to China, increasingly worried consumers everywhere are reluctant to shop, travel or eat out.

Apple supplier Skyworks cuts forecast over coronavirus

Skyworks Solutions, which supplies radio chips for Apple Inc’s iPhones, has cut its quarterly results forecasts because of the coronavirus outbreak disrupting its distribution. Apple accounted for 51% of Skyworks’ net revenue in 2019, according to a regulatory filing. Skyworks also derives nearly 20% of its annual revenue from China, reports Reuters.

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