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Jobs hot in China, with a catch

Su Zhou
Updated: May 9,2016 9:46 AM     China Daily

A recruitment fair sponsored by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs attracted foreigners in Beijing. The number of foreign employees could grow, experts say.[Photo/for China Daily]

Foreigners drawn by good salaries, but competition can be intense, narrowing one’s chance for offer

Large increases in pay and better career development prospects are two main considerations that draw job hunters from developed countries to China, according to some recruiters and experts.

Audrey Deng, a recruitment manager with more than eight years experience at recruiter Spring Professional, said Chinese employers are willing to double salaries to attract overseas talent, plus pay subsidies for children’s education and housing.

“Chinese companies are in their golden time of development, which means they are more willing to invest in research and development and provide career opportunities for foreign talent,” Deng said.

According to Expat Insider 2015, the InterNations Survey, China only ranked 38th in overall reviews but it ranked fifth in terms of income and 17th in terms of career development, higher than the United States and France.

Wages offered by Chinese companies appear to be helping companies attract expatriates who want to flee the salary freezes and rampant unemployment of the debt-stricken West.

Robert Parkinson, CEO and founder of RMG Selection, an international human resources service organization that focuses on China, said the perception that working in China is a hardship has changed from years ago.

Many expatriates have found the fast growth of the Chinese economy exciting. Ash Sutcliffe, a public relations manager in Zhejiang province at Geely Holding Group, which owns Volvo, said the 30-year-old company still looks like a startup company because it is developing fast and has a young staff.

“I have been in China for 14 years. I am 31 years old and the oldest member of my team. All my Chinese colleagues are open-minded,” said Sutcliffe, who hails from the United Kingdom.

By the end of 2012, there were more than 240,000 foreign employees in the Chinese mainland, up 17 percent from 2007, according to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.

Compared with other countries, the figure is not particularly high, and it has potential for further growth. Wang Huiyao, president of the Center for China and Globalization, said the number of people born in foreign countries who live and work in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou rose by more than 50 percent between 2000 and 2013, and now accounts for about 0.5 percent of the population.

Even so, the job market will not necessarily embrace every foreign job seeker. Human resources insiders said experienced professionals with more specialized skill sets and knowledge of advanced technology or industrial processes will be in great demand, while upper management level and entry level positions will shrink.

“The term of work assignment for the upper management level is longer than before because of the cultural learning curve. If you have them in China for three years, you are not getting any return on the investment,” Parkinson said.

“As for entry-level jobs, I think many foreigners want them but cannot get them easily. Overseas returnees who have absorbed language skills and a foreign education system will take them.”

Some talented people from Asian countries, such as Singapore, are popular because of their Western insights, Chinese language and lower cost. Deng of Spring Professional said wages paid for European and US citizen experts are 50 percent higher than for their Asian counterparts.

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