China’s Talent Shortage

China has a looming talent shortage (free reg. required).

China's pool of potential talent is enormous. In 2003 China had roughly 8.5 million young professional graduates with up to seven years' work experience and an additional 97 million people that would qualify for support-staff positions.

Despite this apparently vast supply, multinational companies are finding that few graduates have the necessary skills for service occupations. According to interviews with 83 human-resources professionals involved with hiring local graduates in low-wage countries, fewer than 10 percent of Chinese job candidates, on average, would be suitable for work in a foreign company in the nine occupations we studied: engineers, finance workers, accountants, quantitative analysts, generalists, life science researchers, doctors, nurses, and support staff.

Consider engineers. China has 1.6 million young ones, more than any other country we examined.1 Indeed, 33 percent of the university students in China study engineering,2 compared with 20 percent in Germany and just 4 percent in India. But the main drawback of Chinese applicants for engineering jobs, our interviewees said, is the educational system's bias toward theory. Compared with engineering graduates in Europe and North America, who work in teams to achieve practical solutions, Chinese students get little practical experience in projects or teamwork. The result of these differences is that China's pool of young engineers considered suitable for work in multinationals is just 160,000-no larger than the United Kingdom's. Hence the paradox of shortages amid plenty.

  • “The (Chinese) educational system’s bias toward theory”?

    Seems to me that the *American* educational system is increasingly biased toward theory, in fields ranging from English to Computer Science to Business…and I bet to a significant extent in Engineering as well.

    May not have progressed as far as the situation in China, but perhaps the pRoblems China is now having could be considered as a useful warning.

  • Sara

    What is the right standards/definition for ‘talent,’ by the way? The modern companies need ‘talents’ good enough at the moment or ‘talents’ who are sustainably progressing?

    A diamond means everything somewhere but nothing otherwhere, right?

  • sara

    To company, it is more practical to think what i have and how to make use of them rather than what should be there (the resource).