Robust economic growth creates jobs as Western markets weaken
BEIJING / SHANGHAI - China is luring more foreign job seekers as its economy shines amid the global slowdown.
Ian Hoorneman, a Harvard Business School MBA holder from the United States, came to Beijing in 2009 and is now a counselor and coordinator for international affairs in Beijing Royal School.
Although Hoorneman doesn't earn as much as he did in the US, where he ran his own educational institution, he believes China's education market is more promising.
"In the next 20 years there will be an opportunity for me to earn a lot more money in China than the sum I could earn in the US," he said.
Many job service companies have already noticed that more and more people see China as a promising destination for employment.
Nearly 600,000 expats live in China, according to the latest census in 2010. Before that, the nationwide census did not cover foreign workers.
"The number of expats working in China has been increasing since the reform and opening-up (in 1978), but the exact number as well as industries they are in is what we're asking our branches to find out," Yin Chengji, spokesman of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, said on Friday at a news conference. The ministry began to include expats in its social security system last year.
According to Feng Lijuan, chief consultant at 51job.com, a human resources service provider in China, the company's overseas talent pool stood at 300,000, a rise of 150 percent compared with late 2008.
Her website provided nearly 65,000 work opportunities for overseas talent in early January, an annual increase of 20 percent, Feng said.
Most positions are connected to finance, insurance, hotels, energy, environmental protection, and electronics and car manufacturing, she said.
Feng said enterprises in China find that people from Southeast Asian countries adapt easily to positions because they share similar values and culture with Chinese.
"But Chinese enterprises are longing for more professionals from the United States, Europe and Japan. Foreign professionals are always recruited by a company to lead a team and train local high-end talent," Feng said.
In addition, a number of foreign youths are seeking internships in China.
Cao Enyu, business development manager of Getin2China Group, a Beijing-based internship service company, said the trend is becoming prominent.
"Many college students and graduates in the US and European countries want to take internships in China and so hope to find a job here due to stagnant Western economies and China's fast growth," he said.
The company coordinated internships for 170 foreign youths in China in 2010. That soared to 300 last year, and Cao predicts this year the number will break 500.
Cao said his company has connections with more than 300 college student associations and organizations in some 50 countries. Young people who take internships in China are aged between 20 and 27, most unpaid, and normally working for three to six months.
"About 30 percent of interns are hired by companies when their terms end. Some go back to their home countries and work in companies that have business with China," he said.
Omer Osman is a 21-year-old college student from Sudan with an internship at Archland, a Beijing-based architecture and gardening design company.
Osman said he will find another internship or a short-term job in China after his current job ends in March and then go to the United Kingdom in September to continue his postgraduate studies.
"I will come to work in China after my graduation in 2014 because China is developing fast in architecture and there are many opportunities here," he said.
Emily Brinker, a college student from the UK, has a 12-week internship in a consultancy company in Shanghai.
"Although my internship is unpaid, I'm quite willing to come and work because it will add value to my experience and will make my CV more appealing," said the 20-year-old.
Brinker said she had received three offers from China before she came but her friends in Birmingham who have better academic records have yet to find any internship opportunities in the UK.
But some Chinese employers ask foreign interns to shoulder more work than they can really handle, said Andy Chow, a recruitment specialist in Shanghai.
"Employers think that interns from Western countries have more international experience than their Chinese peers, so they sometimes assign them tasks such as negotiating for price quotes, which is too demanding for interns and could prove unwise in the end," Chow said.
Zhou Wa in Beijing contributed to this story.