'Overseas talent drive requires more guidance'

Updated: 2013-07-01 01:55

By He Na (China Daily)

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Experts at forum say professionals' performance after arrival neglected

China has made major progress in attracting high-quality foreign professionals since the Thousand Talents Program was launched in 2008. But experts warn that many local governments now have their own overseas talent programs and the competition has escalated.

"Introducing foreign talent should be closely connected with regional development and demand," said Liu Xuezhi, deputy director of the Chinese Academy of Personnel Science, at a forum on Regional Talent Competitiveness in Beijing on Sunday. "Different development strategies require different skills."

The forum is the first in China on talent competitiveness and attracted more than 150 participants, including experts from home and abroad at research centers, universities, NGOs and government departments, as well as multinational entrepreneurs.

"The amount of overseas talent being introduced into a region can't be the criteria for evaluating government officials," Liu said. "It has escalated into a battle of talent and is leading to a great waste of government resources."

China's first Regional Talent Competitiveness Report was also released at the forum. It is based on extensive data. The report also established regional competitiveness evaluation methods and made detailed talent competitiveness evaluations of 31 provinces and regions over the past three years.

The report showed that 70 percent of overseas professionals took jobs in coastal and metropolitan areas, and China's vast western region and other undeveloped areas were less attractive to them.

"For the past 30 years, China's economic development was stimulated by special economic zones, but over the following three decades it will depend on the role of special 'talent zones'," said Wang Huiyao, director of China Global Talents Society, which was founded on Sunday, and vice-chairman of the China Talent Research Society affiliated with Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.

However, most experts at the forum expressed concern over the effect of the large influx of foreign professionals.

"Most of the talent we introduced from abroad have big achievements in their research fields. But they still need the time to learn how to use their knowledge to benefit China, especially the cities or companies that spent a huge amount of money on them," said Gui Zhaoming, author of the competitiveness report and director of the Hubei Talent Development and Research Center.

"We attach too much importance to attracting talent and take too little notice of their performance after arriving."

The introduction of talent must be based on usefulness or it is a failed investment, he said.

A detailed performance evaluation system is vital to the future of China's overseas talent workforce, Gui said.

Wu Jiang, director of the Chinese Academy of Personnel Science, suggested introducing a third party for evaluation and to ensure fairness and objectivity.

He conceded that in Western countries most of the evaluation expenses were paid for with social donations, while in China some of the support for evaluations comes from the government, making it more difficult for the system to be independent.

To attract more overseas talent, many governments even provide services to the companies that the professionals work for, such as helping them deal with other government departments.

Wang Zhen, deputy director of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said the government, as the main body for introducing overseas talent, has done too much, which hinders the role of the market.

"For the first few years, talent introduction programs needed the full support of the government. However, when the work is on the right track, it's time for the government to withdraw," he said.

With pressure from an aging population and a low employment rate among college graduates, cultivating China's own talent to work for the country is another topic worthy of discussion.

"We should combine the task of introducing overseas talent with the work of cultivating our own international talent," Gui said. "To have our own talent to support the country's development should be a long-term tactic."