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Views from Christian Bloomfield, Director, Shenzhen

EMPLOYMENT CONDITIONS

What is the current outlook on the overall employment market?

The overall market is expected to be strong.

China’s economy is manufacturing-dominant and its export market is strong. However, there is still a perceived slowdown in confidence, so we will not see the same acceleration rates as in the past. 

Companies are confident about their order books, although they feel they must increase productivity. There is a focus on creating maximum efficiency and productivity. Buzzwords once seen in western manufacturing, such as lean processes, champions of efficiency, continuous improvement, are now present in China as well.

The documented emergence of the middle class has created rising wage pressures in factories. Many people no longer want to leave school and work in a factory – they want to travel and work overseas. They also want to be in business and to work in an office. Hence,  this leads to a shortage of factory workers. As a result, companies are increasing salaries to secure factory workers.

SKILLS IN DEMAND

What type of demand are you seeing in your market in terms of skills and experience?

In engineering, there is a focus on production and quality, hence roles such as engineering managers, quality managers and people responsible for driving efficiency in manufacturing and ensuring production is done right the first time are in high demand.

In procurement, we see a strong need for Procurement Managers, whose job is to source materials as cheaply as possible. Since companies want to reduce costs, raw materials supply is an area of focus.

Companies have become risk averse to hiring people who do not have experience in a certain industry sector or who are not buying certain products. They want people with their black book of contacts rather than taking the chance on people with only good commercial skills.

SALARY EXPECTATIONS

Any specific trends in terms of salary that you have seen?

Specifically, we have seen pressure across Southern China in the area of junior procurement salaries. Junior candidates are requesting for a 30% to 50% pay increment. However, these desires are not necessarily translating to higher wages.

MARKET OUTLOOK

Any there any particular industries that is currently thriving or struggling?

The automotive industry is seeing a strong upswing. Third-party manufacturers in China produce parts for the big players. However, this sector attracts lots of new entrants, hence experiencing tight margins.

Staple industries such as F&B, FMCG as well as property and construction are stable and will always have domestic market presence.

The textiles and packaging industry has been under pressure due to their labour intensive nature that is further saddled with rising labour costs such as factory wages.