Chinese companies are having trouble finding qualified candidates for middle and senior management roles in Africa and are beginning to realize the benefits of employing key personnel in the U.S., according to ChinaNewsService.
The catch is they’re looking for personnel with China business experience. Generally, only those candidates with experience and knowledge of both the local African market and of China will benefit from the impending jobs boom.
Market experts say Chinese companies will employ more foreigners abroad in a bid to boost local expertise in an increasing number of overseas operations.
An anticipated jobs boom, which corporate and government officials say is already modestly underway, is expected to pick up as China’s overseas investment increases in line with its global business strategy, according to the report.
Chinese companies are increasingly realizing they need more local expertise in new markets, said Zhong Yanguang, deputy director of the Information Research Center of International Talent, which operates under the government agency responsible for overseeing foreign employment in China.
“If a company wants to expand their market in a foreign country, they have to know the local culture,” he said. “China has urged private companies to go abroad. However, we have more companies that fail in overseas moves than those that are successful. Talent plays a key role for companies going abroad, especially foreign talent.
“If a Chinese company hires a local person abroad, they may not know Chinese culture and the business etiquette. A person who has studied or worked in China can better play a role as a bridge.
“Obviously, the need for these sort of people is on the rise.”
Speaking at a job fair for foreigners in Beijing in November, Zhong said clothing giant HOdo Group provides a good example of the new employment model.
“When HOdo Group founded their office in London, they hired a British employee here at the annual job fair. He lived in China for more than five years and was sent back to Britain to work as the company’s general manager there. The company said its British employee did a very good job and exceeded its expectations,” Zhong said. “Now, HOdo is asking us to find a U.S. citizen to work for them in Los Angeles.”
At the job fair, a host of companies canvassed for the right kind of talent to employ in their overseas operations.
Zhang Ce, human resources supervisor for Qingdao Hanhe Cable Co. Ltd., said his company is hiring foreigners to work in Africa because they can “communicate well with the local people.”
“People from these destination countries are the best choice,” he said. “But they should have experience in China. This is very important. We judge whether they have enough experience (for the job) through their Chinese level of experience.”
Douean Gut-Serge, 40, from Cote D’Ivoire, is completing his masters at Tsinghua University and hopes to get a job in marketing or finance with a Chinese company.
Depending on the pay and conditions, he would consider returning to Africa to work for a Chinese company there, he said.
“I think it’s a very good strategy,” he said. “China needs to go to Africa, but it’s good to go there with people from Africa, too. It’s a good way to improve business in Africa, because they are people who know the culture and the business practices in Africa.”
It’s not just China that wants foreign employees with China experience under their belt. Multinationals and foreign companies are also jumping on the bandwagon.
Companies that want to place individuals with experience of multiple markets in “ambassador roles” present a new and growing source of jobs, said Michael Christiansen, Asia-Pacific regional president for Danish biotech firm Novozymes.
“We have had such positions before and we are starting to do that more and more,” he said.
Denmark-born Anders Glasdam Axelsen, 35, worked as a business innovation director for Novozymes in China for more than five years. In 2014, he expects to be moved back to the company’s head office in Denmark, where he will use his experience and knowledge of China. “That knowledge will be extremely valuable,” he said. “In headquarters, China is often surrounded by a big question mark.”
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