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Chinese SOEs attracting qualified staff from private sector
( 2003-11-26 22:27) (Xinhua)

Chinese state-owned enterprises ( SOEs) have seen promising results from reforms of employment systems, as more professionals apply for positions.

The State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) under the State Council initiated in September a global search for senior managers for six major SOEs directly administered by central government departments.

The seven "vice-president" positions attracted 463 applicants, which included 17 foreigners from over 10 countries, including the United States and Canada.

A latest survey on the employment choices of college students showed that they prefer jobs with better development opportunities rather than higher incomes. "SOEs have renewed. They are making more profits and becoming more competitive. Above all, they have started focusing more on personnel training and strive to provide larger room for individual development," a graduate from China University of Political Science and Law told Xinhua recently.

Head-hunters, like Shanghai-based GEN Information Consulting Co. Ltd, have also begun to target SOEs as clients. "It's really a big stride forward for SOEs to resort to head-hunters to seek talent from the human resources market," said a GEN senior manager who refused to be named.

The traditional employment and personnel management mechanisms adopted in most SOEs in past decades does not fit the fierce competition over human resources.

According to a recent survey among Beijing's 150 SOEs, over 64 percent of professionals with higher education, which these enterprises had recruited since 1982, had resigned to join private or foreign companies.

SOEs in Beijing's Zhongguancun high-tech zone also saw 20 percent of their employees flow to foreign enterprises.

Facing a more rapid flows of labor after China's entry into the World Trade Organization, many large SOEs became increasingly concerned about reforming human resources management.

Since April, China National Offshore Oil Corp. has started a comprehensive reform campaign, which encourages employees to compete for higher positions and connects their incomes with performance and the entire company's profits.

During the reform, about 80 percent of the 2,414 employees experienced changes in positions, and 978 people were dispatched to branch companies. The number of employees with college education rose by 10.1 percent and the average age dropped by 3.2 years.

But experts point out that SOEs are employing outcasts from other companies, but not professional corporate executives, which indicates a need for further innovation in the rewards system.

At a recent forum on the future development of Chinese mainland companies in Hong Kong stock markets, Shao Ning, vice chairman of SASAC, said an annual payment system would cover all major SOEs next year to help attract senior managers with huge bonuses.

SASAC will also launch further research in share holding rights and pension schemes to make the reward system of SOEs more competitive in human resources market.

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