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Why Can't China Attract Foreign Professionals?

May 02, 2017 Translated by eChinacities.com Comments (51)     Add your comment Newsletter

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Editor's Note: This translated article discusses the difficulties that Chinese and Western companies in China face attracting foreign talent. The author describes a situation that seems like a lose-lose for foreigners and companies. Companies in China now have high expectations for foreign professionals, so young professionals have trouble finding positions. However, at the same time, most experienced professionals do not want to move to China. By holding out for perfect candidates, companies do not fill their positions, while still blocking younger candidates from the market.

China has a rapidly developing economy, but Chinese and international companies in China often have trouble attracting foreign talent. Why are foreign professionals often unwilling to come work in China? The professional job market in China is difficult for the young and inexperienced, while more experienced foreigners are hesitant to move to China because of pollution and other issues.

China foreign professionals

1) Ideal Jobs are Hard to Find

With an increased number of foreigners in China, it is difficult for young expats to find an ideal job. According to foreign media reports, about 65% of jobs for foreigners in China are English teaching positions, therefore it is hard for young people to find a professional position. Fluency in Mandarin has also become a prerequisite for foreign professionals in China, rather than just a bonus, unless they are in a highly specialized industry. Hong Kong's Hudson Recruitment's Aruna Alimchandani said in a 2013 interview that Hong Kong has become a springboard into the Mainland Chinese job market, where 80% of jobs now require Mandarin or Cantonese speaking abilities.

In addition, more and more Chinese students are heading overseas to study abroad. They master multiple languages and come home with an international vision of China. The students that choose to return home from China become stiff competition for foreigners looking for professional work. Furthermore, professional jobs in China now require years or work experience or other other overseas experience, making it difficult for foreign youth to get hired.

2) Pay is Lower than Expected

The 2014 China International Talent Exchange Research and Department Cooperation issued a report that said that foreign professionals name salary as an important factor for working in China. Out of many factors including development of the industry and place of employment, foreign professionals said that salary was most important.

However, when foreigners come to China, they are often paid much less than they expect to be. This is because high-paying professional jobs are difficult for foreigners to find. Foreigners come to China intending to work in a professional field, but end up teaching English. In 2012, foreign media published a story on an American named Max who studied environmental engineering at the University of Vermont. He could not find a job in his field in China, and had to settle for teaching English in a kindergarten for 10,000 Yuan per month. He ended up having to send most of his wages home to pay off his student loans.

Chinese students returning home from overseas do not expect high wages. In 2014, the Ministry of Education released a report showing that more than 80% of returned overseas students make less than 10,000 Yuan per month.

In China today, it is difficult for foreigners to get the high-paying job that they expect, and may turn many off from the idea of living in China.

3) Poor Living Conditions

In 2012, long-term Chinese resident Mark Kitto published an article in the UK's Prospect Magazine titled, “You'll Never Be Chinese: Why I'm Leaving the Country I Loved.” Kitto had a Chinese wife and two children, but decided to move his family away from China. His article sparked a fierce online debate. Kitto's main reason for leaving was that he found it difficult to assimilate into Chinese society. On the other hand, the cultural and institutional differences between China and the West is what attracts many foreigners to China in the first place.

In addition, environmental issues have made China less attractive to foreigners. Foreigners deciding to leave China because of pollution is not uncommon, and many foreigners now think twice about coming to work in China because of the pollution. Former Nokia senior vice president Dirk Meyer said in a 2014 interview that he had decided to leave Beijing at the end of the term because of the pollution. He also said that when Nokia recently tried to recruit a new R&D specialist 17 candidates all refused to move to Beijing, 15 because of the pollution.

Source: QQ News

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Keywords: China job market China foreign professionals

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51 Comments ( Add your comment )

1
comment|58524|298985
NanNingJay

I suggest 'Pollution' is just a key word representing more than actual air quality. Another thing I notice in the article was the idea more foreigners are coming to China. Increased numbers. I'm sometimes told that has peaked and now there's an overall decline? Or maybe its Western foreigners they mean? I've never really seen any official numbers though.

Apr 14, 2015 00:54
2
comment|58526|279026
Lord_hanson

Wumaos! Prepare to defend the motherland!

Apr 14, 2015 07:03
3
comment|58550|309039
Guest2781358

There's quite a few on here

Apr 14, 2015 10:51
4
comment|58557|27601
Robk

LoL... I can just see it. A bunch of drooling, mouth-breathers with a poster of Mao hung in their bedroom turning on their MACs to defend the honor of China against the evil American running-dogs. yi-er-san kai shi!

Apr 14, 2015 11:47
5
comment|58561|90591
Koltenuka

I don't think they actually care about the party ideology, as wumaos tend to be fairly well educated. It seems like it is just a job for them.

Apr 14, 2015 11:59
6
comment|58528|281533
RiriRiri

QQ's topics are getting dumber by the years. Ma Huateng must have hit a very nice deal with the current leadership. Another feel good article that contradicts itself right from the first point. Also, increased numbers of foreigners? Okay, where are the statistics?

Apr 14, 2015 07:51
7
comment|58703|262996
expatlife26

This is a really amateurish article for a bunch of reasons. Foremost is that the topic is supposed to be China can't attract foreign professionals, which implies that there is a strong demand for them which is unmet due to unfavorable circumstances. In practice though the article is more about how there ISNT demand for foreign professionals. What I take away from this is that companies don't consider foreign talent enough of a priority to pay for it, and that Chinese foreign students fill the need in local firms. Foreigners that do come here looking for professional work end up teaching english...but even that's a stupid point. If they end up teaching english than they weren't motivated to be professionals in the first place. The example they give of a fresh engineering grad from UVM who ended up teaching is a ridiculous example. Obviously that guy didn't really care about being an engineer or he would have moved on when he couldn't find a job. I'm sure there are lots of stories like that but it's not an example that supports the topic. The only example which is somewhat related is the Nokia SVP, but even that's more an issue of talent retention than talent attraction. This reads like something from a high school english class.

Apr 16, 2015 10:40
8
comment|58533|85631
knightly

The real reason is that China offers nothing that millennials and Gen X'ers value or desire. Example, fast, secure and unrestricted internet -no. Access to the latest technology at great prices- no. Ease of travel in and out of the country - no. Fair and transparent rules and government - no. Freedom of expression -no. Clean air and public spaces - no. A civilised society with social values comparable to back home - no. The list could go on. Sorry China, you will never attract young, talented westerners for any longer than a year or two because life here involves far too many compromises.

Apr 14, 2015 08:37
9
comment|58558|27601
Robk

I agree. Funny how they always fail to mention these facts like they don't exist. Ignorance is best solution in China. Another HUGE issue, is that China does not allow citizenship. And even if you COULD get it, you have to denounce your own citizenship. It just seems wrong for a country that is suppose to be emerging as a world superpower. Chinese think that if they are rich, they will be respected and treated with admiration. Unfortunately, they don't realize that people are truly recognized for their innovation and creativity.

Apr 14, 2015 11:52
10
comment|58612|265245
BlightyMatt

Excellent comment! Bang on... Add that it is very difficult to build anything due to the impermanence of life here. Even if you can stick the negatives of daily life there is very little reward for doing so. When your usefulness is gone, so are you. Build a business, raise a family, buy a property, all built on shifting sands and the rug could be pulled out from under you at any minute....Where do I sign up?

Apr 15, 2015 05:09
11
comment|58535|307009
Guest2763082

China will always be one of the top destinations for foreign talent. The appeal is multi-faceted and the opportunities are immense.

Apr 14, 2015 08:42
12
comment|58564|276259
Stiggs

Too embarrassed by the crap you wrote to even use your anonymous ECC name are you 'guest2763082' ?

Apr 14, 2015 13:25
13
comment|58566|278125
Guest2503130

Lol, this sounds one of my students' Chinglish essays, straight from Baidu translate. When I ask them to find a synonym for, or explain "multi-faceted", they are dumbstruck.

Apr 14, 2015 13:38
14
comment|58573|303147
dongbeiren

Wow, you speak some English. Care to elaborate?

Apr 14, 2015 16:27
15
comment|58591|279355
FedericoBN2008

Hahahahahahahahaha!

Apr 14, 2015 20:56
16
comment|58626|1581472
GeoHistTeacher

Yes, China is rude, dirty, ignorant and aloof. Mutli-faceted in every sense of the world, there, skeezix.

Apr 15, 2015 09:36
17
comment|58754|27883
royceH

Oh come on.....when I ask them how they are, they reply they like chicken. Jesus Christ.....35 years this has been going on. Excuse the blasphemy.

Apr 16, 2015 23:03
18
comment|58812|307009
Guest2763082

China will leave western countries in the dust simply because the government is powerful enough and foresighted enough to invest in long term infrastructure in the energy, transport and IT sectors in particular. Watch how the the worlds biggest corporations will all want to have their HQs in a Chinese city within the next 10 years.

Apr 18, 2015 18:00
19
comment|58820|1581957
Guest14237618

Oh, are you talking about the same corporations that are now sending their staff back home, packing up and moving out of China? If the West was also playing the protectionist game China wouldn't stand a chance, of course when China does it and the West keeps its doors wide open it's not a fair game, too bad for China, Europe is now heading toward nationalism, the US will follow, enjoy the free market while it lasts.

Apr 19, 2015 12:34
20
comment|73503|91621
donnie3857

Common guys; He/she was joking

Jan 19, 2017 13:15
21
comment|58542|43131
Guest388182

Anyone with a choice will choose to stay away

Apr 14, 2015 09:45
22
comment|58555|310610
Chairman_Cow

Because China's a dump with lazy people who would rather sleep than work.

Apr 14, 2015 11:41
23
comment|58559|27601
Robk

China will never be able to attract lots of true talents with this model. Unfortunately for China... talented people usually tend to be intelligent people and know the difference between "fog" and "smog". On top of that, MANY Chinese bosses are extremely insecure. They don't want to listen to ideas and advice from subordinates (especially foreigners). Much of what foreigners bring to the table (creativity) is lost or stolen. They would much rather steal or copy... lower the production cost and never jump into new waters. I do UI/UX design for software and applications. All my clients are Westerners. I can't stand to work with Chinese client because many of them say they need your talents but in fact, just want a foreigner around because it gives them face and just having a foreigner on the team, contributes to their success. They want "Yes" men and if you disagree with their ideas (which are usually foolish), be prepared to face their wrath because you made them lose face... very unrewarding and stressful. Everyone is too busy trying to prove they are the boss and not focusing on the tasks at hand. What kind of talented individual would jump at the chance of that? There are some good opportunities but you need a solid "guanxi" network to find them.

Apr 14, 2015 11:58
24
comment|58571|1581472
GeoHistTeacher

Let's see. 1: Xenophobic Chinese attitudes. 2: Scam artists of both male and female types. 2: Pigheaded cultural stubbornness. 3: Always being reminded that you are a guest and you need to respect everything in China while getting no respect from anyone. 4: Chinese employers treat foreigners worse than cattle and are surprised when they leave. 5: Can't breathe, can't drink the water, poisoned food with GMO. 6: Insane visa process that has gotten more hostile under Xi Jinping. 7: Internet censorship. 8: China's traditional hostile attitude towards difference and change has gotten worse under Xi Jinping and professionals can't accept it. 9: This is China, so your education and experience means nothing because I'm Chinese and I know everything about everything. 10: Because pay and benefits compared to other places is terrible.

Apr 14, 2015 15:57
25
comment|58575|112751
coineineagh

i wonder how many of the poignant comments here will secretly get cleaned up in about two months, to harmonize this article.

Apr 14, 2015 17:05
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