Finding people with right talent

Updated: 2013-12-16 01:06

By Joseph Catanzaro and Li Aoxue (China Daily)

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In particular, graduate jobs for foreigners are becoming increasingly difficult to get. Lance says many young people now come to China on internships hoping it will lead to employment. For Garcia, who did an internship with Lenovo, the gamble did not pay off.

Vacancies exist

But despite this tighter, tougher jobs market, Hays and other recruitment agencies have standing vacancies for a range of jobs.

So, what sorts of skills and professions are actually in demand?

"I think if you went back five years, the traditional manufacturing and engineering disciplines were the biggest areas of demand for foreign talent in China," he says. "I think that's shifting more to the service industries, such as banking or finance. The demand will definitely grow in the next five years. The pharmaceutical industry is booming at the moment. I think that will continue. Some of the really technical disciplines, such as IT, I see a lot of growth in.

"There are lots of vacancies and not enough candidates to fill them."

He urges job seekers to do their research before coming to China and find out whether their skills and experience are actually in demand.

Russian-born Alex Farfurnik, chief technical officer for Xiabo Network Technology, says his company has plenty of jobs going.

Down at the Beijing jobs fair, he speaks with plenty of job seekers. It's not finding people that presents a challenge, he says, it's finding the right people.

"It's hard to get good technology people anywhere in the world," he says. "I want as many as I can get."

In Shanghai, Yang Xiong, director of the Youth Research Center at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, says there is currently a massive skills shortage in the finance sector.

"We have done a survey on the current number of qualified people in finance. We found the reserve (surplus to requirements) in this field is less than 1 percent, which is really a problem for us," Yang says.

Lance at Hays puts the talent shortage down to China facing stiff competition with other Asian financial and innovation hubs such as Singapore.

That current talent tussle has perks for the job seeker.

"If you find a senior biologist with pharmaceutical experience, there are probably five or six companies that would immediately be interested in interviewing or hiring that person," Lance says. "If you were looking at an industry that is growing or expanding and the competition at the top is really tough, then you do have the flexibility to sort of name your price.

"If you're looking at general manager or vice-president or even up to CEO, packages of 3 million, 4 million, 5 million yuan and above (per annum) are possible. If you're looking at the middle ranks where you maybe have a technical background and management function, anywhere from 1 million yuan to 2.5 million yuan a year is pretty achievable."

Former California-based professor Jeff Jolly, 42, says it is possible for foreigners to arrive in China and gradually work their way into lucrative positions.

In 2010, his first year as a professor at Fudan University in Shanghai, Jolly says he was paid about 72,000 yuan a year.

He now has a second job as a consultant for a company that helps Chinese students prepare applications for American universities. He now earns up to 1 million yuan a year.

"If someone comes here and they can bear with the first year of having a small salary, I think it pays off," he says. "I make somewhere between 600,000 and 1 million yuan a year. That's not uncommon. Some of the younger teachers at the other universities have snagged similar (consultancy) gigs as well. They are on about 400,000 to 800,000 yuan per year. It really takes staying here for a year, getting to know people, making connections. The Chinese call it guanxi. It's not who you are, it's who you know."

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