Talent shortage a bottleneck for auto industry

Updated: 2011-07-18 09:30


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Talent shortage a bottleneck for auto industry

A Lamborghini is ready for display at the 8th China Changchun International Automobile Expo on July 15, 2011.[Photo/CFP]

CHANGCHUN -- For China's auto industry to become more advanced it must break through the talent shortage bottleneck to boost technological innovation, experts said at an auto expo being held in the northeastern province of Jilin.

Despite the rapid growth of the auto sector in recent years, the country still lags far behind auto powers Germany, Japan and the United States in technology, development environment, innovation and talents, said Fu Yuwu, vice chairman with the Society of Automotive Engineers of China, while attending the eighth China Changchun International Auto Expo.

"But the root cause of all the other three weaknesses is the talent shortage. The world's largest auto market has to solve the problem in order to transform from a big auto manufacturer to a strong one," Fu said.

Speaking at a forum held during the auto expo, Zhang Xiaoyu, executive vice president of China Machinery Industry Federation, echoed his views, saying that independent innovation is the key to accomplish the goal.

The 2011 International Forum on Advanced Vehicle Technologies and Integration (VTI 2011), focusing on technical discussions, is jointly held by Society of Automotive Engineers of China, China FAW Group and Jilin University from July 16-18 in Jilin's capital city of Changchun, the cradle of the country's automotive industry and one of the largest auto manufacturing centers.

"That's why we hold the VTI 2011 during the auto expo this year, through which we hope to promote inter-industry technological exchanges," Zhang said.

Despite being a pillar industry within 10 years' development, the country's auto sector still faces a series of problems, especially the technological gap with other leading auto-manufacturing countries, Zhang said.

"The auto industry never lacks market and capital. What it urgently needs is technology, but the key to acquire the technology is the talent that masters the technology," Zhang said.

According to Zhang, auto sales, which hit 18.06 million vehicles last year, are expected to reach 20 million units this year, 10 times that in 2000.

"But we only have the superiority of scale without any technological strength," Zhang said.

Due to the removal of government incentives, purchase limits in some cities and rising oil prices, auto sales registered a 3.25-percent year-on-year growth rate in the first half of the year after surging 30 percent in 2010 and 50 percent in 2009. Home-grown brands were badly hit as consumers turned to foreign brands for better quality and performances.

Beijing created a car-quota system to combat traffic woes in January, allowing only 240,000 new cars to be registered in the city this year, compared with the 800,000 new automobiles that took to the streets in 2010.

"It is a certain stage that the sector has to go through, though a difficult one," Zhang said.

Guan Xin, dean of Auto Engineering School of Jilin University, was positive about the future of home-grown brands.

"The country's auto market still fosters huge potentials as the demand is strong," said Guan, adding that the cause behind the drop is the backward technologies and the problem will be resolved as the sector makes technological advances.

Meanwhile, Zhang suggested that home-grown brands should not rely on policies for growth as the country's auto market is a quite open one.

"Industry restructuring is inevitable. Products and enterprises that fail to withstand the test of the market should be weeded out," Zhang said, adding that policy support should only be limited to technological research such as in the component sector.


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