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Views from Peter Smith, Managing Director, East China


What is your assessment of the overall employment conditions in the geographic area and industry sectors you cover?

The number one factor driving change in East China is the overarching emphasis on up-skilling and cost containment. In line with this shift, employers are looking for professionals with proven experience and the ability to drive results. There is also a high demand for technical positions across all industry sectors, as these professionals can help to reduce costs and drive innovation in terms of increasing product offerings.  

Many companies are increasing their investment into digital marketing as they look to grow their customer base and push their products to the market faster.

Unsurprisingly, there are increased expectations on support functions to add more value to organisations by being more strategic rather than being purely operational.

An example of this would be in human resources where employee retention is seen as the key to managing rising employment costs. This has resulted in organisations focusing on “organisational development” and “employee value proposition”. Organisations are also increasing their investment in areas such as education development, technical skills, EVP and work-life balance as these prove to be more cost-effective than paying 20% to 30% more to hire new people. The demand for experienced people to deliver against these is therefore increasing.  

How is China’s or the global economy affecting employment market conditions?

As China’s overall economic growth rate has been slowing down over the last few years, this has led to a normalisation in the market place with a slight reduction in the growth in demand in the employment market. Nevertheless, this growth is still very significant. Companies are still continuing to hire staff to grow their organisations, invest in up-skilling as well as companies looking to start-up in China. Where we see this the most is in the tier 1 cities such as Shanghai and Beijing and we expect this to carry on into the medium future at the least.


What are some of the more demanded skills and experience in the market and which of these will be most handsomely rewarded?

The first would be experience within the procurement and supply chain industry. There has been a struggle for companies to control supply chain costs in China because of its sub-contracting nature. Because it gets sub-contracted many times, the further it gets subcontracted the harder it is to keep it under control. The challenge then is - Are the organisation’s IT systems advanced enough to track it?

Another large growth area is 3rd Party Logistics (3PL). Cost control is becoming increasingly important and companies are looking for procurement and logistics specialists across almost every industry sector.

Lastly, Local Chinese companies are realising the need for external expertise and are looking to recruit external professionals to up-skill the various business functions such as supply chain, human resources, finance and manufacturing.


What are some of the key highlights of the market in the next 12 months?

We expect to see further investment in talent retention, especially with regards to employee value proposition, work/life balance as well as organisational development.

Companies will also further invest in IT infrastructure to improve efficiency.

The common consensus we see is that China is developing a consumer-led economy rather than an export-led one. Most companies we speak with are talking about growing across China and expanding into second tier cities and beyond.

We also expect to see a surge in sectors/industries such as automotive, pharmaceuticals and medical devices.