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Expat database to meet talent demand, supply

Su Zhou
Updated: Apr 18,2016 7:32 AM     China Daily

Zhang Jianguo (center), director of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, talks to delegates at the 14th Conference on International Exchange of Professionals in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, on April 16.[Photo/China Daily]

China is to build a database of overseas talent as part of a digital platform to match foreign experts with potential employers, a senior official said on April 17.

The platform, the first big-data project of its kind in the country, will include all legally employed foreign workers’ nationalities, areas of expertise and industry, their employer and city of residence, according to Zhang Jianguo, director of the State Administration of Foreign Expert Affairs.

He proposed the database at the Conference on International Exchange of Professionals, which was held in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, on April 16 and 17.

During the event, he said he had noticed that more governments and companies in China are looking to hire foreign employees, while more expats see the country as a land of opportunity.

“Both the supply and demand sides are positive,” he said. “But I also noticed that many employers can’t find the right candidates. The key issue here is matching.”

Between 2011 and 2015, foreign experts paid more than 3 million visits to China, including short trips and longer-term employment. This is a 30 percent increase compared with 2006 to 2010.

Zhang said most expats work in eight provinces and cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Zhejiang province.

“In the past, overseas talent introduction was led by government policies and talent projects. But these cannot react to market changes dynamically,” he said. “The market should lead overseas talent recruitment, and the government should create a friendly environment for overseas talent such as a simplified visa application process.”

The digital platform will also bridge the information gap between demand and supply, Zhang added, although he did not elaborate.

As China develops, emerging industries are springing up and are facing a shortage of overseas talent. For example, data from Spring Professional, an international recruitment agency, show many automakers are developing new energy vehicles and need high-end foreign experts.

Christine Raynaud, Greater China CEO for Morgan Philips Group, a global recruitment company, said local and foreign companies in China are bad at international recruitment.

“Chinese firms and brands are internationalizing to compete in global markets, and it means they have to attract and integrate foreign experts on critical projects,” she said. “However, the traditional model of recruitment is too local in terms of sourcing habits and recruiter experience. It also doesn’t leverage digital tools.”

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