Returning talents top picks for employers in China, says new study
Demand from Chinese companies for skilled and highly educated overseas returnees has intensified as China continues to deepen its reform and opening-up, a new study said.
China’s overseas returnees, or those educated or with work experience overseas, are more likely to get a higher income versus their counterparts in other Asian countries and regions, international recruitment firm Hays said in its latest report. The report said 61 percent of surveyed Chinese companies are willing to offer overseas returnees a premium salary.
Simon Lance, managing director of Hays in China, said the survey findings are a broad reflection of the current trends from the country’s social and economic transformation.
“Willingness to offer overseas returnees a premium salary shows the open attitude by Chinese mainland businesses, which is what the country needs as it further opens up its economy,” said Lance.
“Thanks to the reform and opening-up policy, China opened its economy to the outside world, boosting Chinese businesses’ need for returning talents. They will need more overseas returnees as the country’s economy keeps growing and as it further opens the economy. More talents, meanwhile, will move back,” he said.
To enhance competitiveness, a number of Chinese cities have jumped into a fierce “war” for talents with attractive financial support, favorable hukou (household registration) policies and other subsidies.
Shenzhen in Guangdong province, for example, has started its “peacock project” to attract overseas returnees since 2011, and is granting rewards of 3 million yuan ($432,000) to high-end overseas talents in industries that are facing an acute shortage of skilled workers.
In June, Guangdong announced a policy to reduce taxes for overseas talents and the much-needed skilled workers planning to move into the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.
“The Chinese immigrants overseas and students overseas are the emerging power of China’s future economic development,” said Wang Huiyao, founder and director of the Center for China and Globalization, a nongovernment think tank in Beijing. “The talent war is getting more and more fierce. In Silicon Valley, international talents count for 50 percent of its total talent pool, but in Zhongguancun (China’s technology hub in Beijing), the ratio is only 1 percent.”
About 53 percent of the surveyed respondents moved back for opportunities to progress and develop their careers in key emerging sectors that face talent shortages, such as the biopharmaceutical industry.
However, better payment was not the sole reason for the shift, the report said. “Being close to family is of paramount importance to professionals who want to return to their families as Asia is aging rapidly.”
The survey found that 71 percent of the Chinese overseas returnee respondents regarded family as the prime motive for moving back to the home country, a rapid increase from the 41 percent seen in a similar Hays survey in 2013, despite the fact that they may not receive a pay increase at home.
The survey found that 47 percent of the overseas returnees were expecting a salary equivalent to the same they received abroad. On the contrary, 58 percent of the overseas returnees across the whole of Asia felt that living closer to their family was the most compelling reason to move back.
Overseas returnees may also face challenges after coming home and working for companies at home as the corporate culture differs, the survey said.
“Overseas returnees should do research about their home countries’ corporate culture,” says Qu Na, vice-president of human resources, corporate communication and sales training at Lundbeck China, a unit of the Denmark-based international pharmaceutical company.
“My suggestion is that they be more patient and give themselves time to understand local working environments,” Qu said.