Global expertise a scarce asset for employers

Updated: 2013-08-28 00:13

By He Dan (China Daily)

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China needs to attract more workers who are savvy and well-versed in the ways and culture of international business, experts say.

Chinese companies, especially State-owned enterprises, have become more enthusiastic about overseas investment, and the demand for global expertise is increasing, Wang Huiyao, president of the China Global Talent Society, said at a symposium in Beijing this month.

China's overseas investment has increased about 260 percent in the past five years and SOEs have played a major role, he said.

In February, China National Offshore Oil Corp announced it had closed a $15.1 billion deal to buy Canada's Nexen Inc, the largest foreign takeover by a Chinese company.

"Rapid growth in overseas investment has created huge demand for international expertise but there is a shortage in China," said Wang, also director-general of the Center for China and Globalization, a Beijing think tank.

Of the senior managers recruited by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission for major SOEs, only 10 percent were recruited globally in the past decade, he said.

It is estimated that China will need 75,000 senior managers with a proven global perspective and expertise over the next 10 to 15 years, but there are only 3,000 to 5,000 individuals who meet the criteria, he said, citing a 2009 study by the McKinsey Global Institute.

Amy Cheng, vice-chairwoman of the Bank of China International Asia's investment banking division, said her company used to hire many foreign employees, but they often struggled to adapt to China's corporate culture.

She said her company now prefers to hire people from the Chinese mainland or Hong Kong who have studied or worked abroad.

"We appreciate people who are well-versed in the global and domestic market, fluent in Chinese and English, and good team players," she said. "More importantly, they should have at least one skill that can add value to our company."

Demetrios Papademetriou, president of the Migration Policy Institute, a think tank based in Washington, said it is vital to understand the factors that people consider when choosing a destination country for work before designing policies to attract global talent.

"People are attracted by a synergistic work environment where other talented professionals concentrate," he said at the Beijing symposium. "They go to places with opportunity so they can get the best returns on their own human-capital investments."

Peter Poechmueller, an Austrian who works as chief technical officer at Shandong Sino-chip Semiconductors, said more companies in China now provide reasonable compensation and internationally competitive salary and benefit packages to attract foreign workers.

Liu Yiran contributed to this story.