A lack of qualified personnel in both the private and public sectors has seen
the number of foreigners working in the country soar.
Expatriates legally employed in the country last year almost doubled compared
with three years earlier, reaching a record high of more than 150,000, according
to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.
The rise is mainly seen in overseas-funded companies and local offices of
multinationals as they expand rapidly in the coastal areas as well as big cities
in the inland provinces.
The most sought-after positions include those in information technology (IT)
and management, including human resources and finance departments.
In Shanghai alone, where more than half of the global top 500 multinationals
have a presence, an estimated 40,000 foreigners work.
The State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs is also hiring foreign
experts every year.
"Foreigners with managerial and professional skills are welcome to work in
China," said Gao Lin, an official with the ministry's employment department,
adding that more are coming after the country joined the World Trade
Organization (WTO) in 2001.
Lack of talents to fill new positions is a major reason behind the influx of
The IT and telecommunications sectors, new materials and energies, high-tech
and financial industries are particularly in need of foreign talent, said Wang
Tongxun, a senior expert with the Chinese Academy of Personnel Science under the
Ministry of Personnel.
"It means greater opportunities for both domestic and overseas talented
people," he said. But since most domestic jobseekers cannot meet the
requirements, foreigners fill the breach.
For instance, senior personnel in finance and accounting, like finance
controllers, are urgently needed, Mercer Consulting said in a mid-March report
after it co-sponsored a survey with the Association of Chartered Certified
But most senior accounting positions are taken by expatriates, it said.
Key positions such as marketing managers of overseas enterprises and
foreign-funded hotels, and top posts in banks and manufacturers are also mostly
taken by foreigners.
For these jobs, "expatriates are paid two to three times higher than their
local counterparts," said Alan Zhang, who leads Mercer's Human Capital Product
Solutions business in China.
"Most expatriates used to take up senior managerial or senior technical
positions. But since 2004, there is an increasing trend to assign expatriates at
middle management and professional level," he added.
(China Daily 04/04/2006 page1)
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