For a long time, China has been a magnet attracting overseas job hunters. Today, however, employers of the second largest economy in the world are now taking a more cautious approach to recruitment.
Published in BBC.
February 12, 2014.
According to statistics, in 2012, the number of foreign workers in mainland China totals 240,000, up 17% from 2007, and is still on the increase. Although Hong Kong is very attractive to those working in finance, Shanghai and Beijing are more popular with foreign workers. Half of the workers are from the US, 20% from the UK.
Compared with the large numbers of permanent British and Australian emigrants abroad, 4.7 million from the UK and 1 million from Australia, the number of foreign workers in China may seem miniscule in comparison. Nevertheless, it signifies the importance of work experience in China as part of one’s international resume for many top quality talents at a variety of professional positions
Many foreigners take to China as soon as they arrive in this country. According to a survey of more than 7,000 foreign nationals from around the world conducted by HSBC, China was listed as the best place for work in terms of pay and raising a child, ahead of Germany and Singapore.
However, the enthusiasm of foreign nationals in China’s job market is not always awarded. Take for example a vacancy for someone who can speak a foreign language. Chinese employers are more inclined to employ a Chinese national who have overseas experience. Su Ya, an advisor at Hudson, a recruitment specialist, said, “it costs more to employ foreigners; in addition, there are obstacles to overcome in terms of language and culture.”
Despite this, many enthusiastic and talented foreign professionals can find suitable jobs in various stages of their careers. Leah Yu, a new college graduate from California, said that in order to gain work experience in China, many young foreigners like her obtain employment by lowering their salary expectations. She added, “Compared with enterprises overseas, new recruits in China are paid very low salaries; young people are still willing to work in China with such low salaries as they tend to be able to get well-paid jobs later in their career.”
In the coming years, Chinese and foreign enterprises in China will continue to value highly qualified overseas professionals with skills in science and technology and experience in senior management. However, the need for native English speakers in everyday jobs is undoubtedly rapidly decreasing. At present, the job market in China is in need of foreign workers who possess better language skills and also wider experience of China.
Published in Confucius Institute Magazine.
Number 31. Volume II. March 2014.