Talent scouts must find, and also keep

Updated: 2013-04-26 09:04

By Chen Yingqun and Hu Haiyan (China Daily)

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Talent scouts must find, and also keep
China goes into overdrive to attract top-end professionals and keep economic momentum chugging

When the clock strikes midnight on April 30 and China starts celebrating International Workers' Day, it is also the deadline for entries in a talent contest in which the country tries to draw the world's brightest minds to work in its offices, universities and laboratories.

Thousands of applications that have poured in from around the world for the 1,000 Talents Plan will be scrutinized over the next few months, as China embarks on yet another program to attract more overseas talent to its shores.

What exactly drives the world's second-largest economy on such a massive search for talent? The answer lies partly in the recent rapid outbound moves by Chinese companies and the government push to shape China's growth on a knowledge-driven economy.

Through its far-reaching human resources policies over the last decade, the government has made clear its intention to lead the hunt for global talent. Local governments have not been far behind and have been competing with each other in the talent stakes.

North China's Tianjin municipality announced its recruitment plan for international talent in late March, with about 125 key universities, research institutions and enterprises offering 1,326 positions for top talent, compared with just 760 positions last year.

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About 46 percent of the positions are at or above the level of associate professor and vice-chairman of companies, the Tianjin Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Bureau says.

Zhenjiang city in East China's Jiangsu province has implemented 20 favorable policies for the first time to help attract 200 foreign experts and 700 high-level talents with an overseas background in the next three years.

Shandong province has drawn up plans to establish another 10 recruitment liaison offices overseas, including in the US and Germany, to expand its channels for the recruitment of overseas talent.

The Donghu New and High Technology Development Zone of Wuhan city in Hubei province recently said it would offer incentives to those who successfully recommend high-level international talent to the zone, the highest reward being 240,000 yuan ($38,800; 29,700 euros).

Rapid growth

Talent scouts must find, and also keep

Foreigners at a recent job fair in Nanjing, Jiangsu province. Provided to China Daily

"China's hardware facilities like its infrastructure are in reasonably good shape after 30 years of solid growth," says Wang Huiyao, director of the Center for China and Globalization, which has focused on overseas talent studies for more than a decade. "However, it still lacks in software skills like managerial and scientific expertise. One major reason for the weakness is the lack of personnel with such know-how."

Wang says that Chinese companies looking to spread their wings in overseas markets or participate in international bidding projects are in strong need of international talent.

After the 2008 global recession, international talent has also set its sights on China. Spanish PhD student Mario Lanza is one of them. His aim is to find a permanent position at a Chinese university working in nanotechnology.

"China has offered good money and resources to attract talent from abroad, and indeed creates a very good environment for professionals like me to come and stay. Also in my case, I can also have access to some tools which young researchers don't have in our home countries," he says.

Fu Junsheng, division chief of the Information Research Center of International Talent under the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, says: "Currently China's international talent attraction programs are led by central and local governments. Most of the top talent search programs are geared toward industries such as aerospace, new energy, bio-pharmaceuticals, life sciences and other high-tech industries."

In 2008, the central government launched the Recruitment Program of Global Experts, dubbed the 1,000 Talents Plan, to attract overseas professionals to the country's key innovative projects, key subjects and laboratories, high-tech industrial parks and state-owned enterprises and financial institutions.

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