Hays: China’s Top Ten Talent Trends for 2017

Published on 2016-12-20

China’s go-global campaign will drive demand in 2017 for internationally-minded candidates who have experience in the facilitation of companies finalising overseas acquisitions and investment deals. This is just one of the top 10 talent trends for 2017.

Top of many employers’ hitlists will be mobile talent as companies strive to create or strengthen their global presence.

“China’s go-global drive will continue in 2017 with more acquisitions and new projects in the pipeline,” says Simon Lance, Managing Director for Hays in China. “As China seeks to increase its economic power around the globe, bi-lingual candidates with knowledge and experience working in Western markets and exemplary negotiation skills will be in high demand.”

According to Hays, employers will take a pragmatic approach in their search for candidates who can work on outbound investment projects by placing priority on experience.

Hays also finds that China’s booming information technology sector and Internet industry will see a number of new jobs created in 2017 as the country embraces the digital era.

“Digital transformation in China is developing at a faster pace than we first envisaged. The evolution of the Internet and the technologies behind it are completely changing the digital consumer landscape in China. Subsequently, companies are needing to hire more candidates with digital experience to create and lead new business development and marketing strategies,” says Simon.

“Creative, experienced, and innovative talent is what companies are looking for. However, it’s expected the skill shortage will worsen before it gets better in 2017 and this will see demand outpacing supply in a dynamic market.”

Hays’ top 10 talent trends for 2017 in China are:

1. Booming IT & Internet industry: The IT industry will be a hotbed of recruitment activity in 2017. As the world’s third-largest IT market behind the United States and Japan, China’s digital transformation is an irreversible trend with companies accelerating expansion in the areas of e-commerce and digital marketing. An investment spree in Internet businesses and a growing number of online financial services will drive demand for candidates who have digital experience.

2. Ongoing skill shortages: Senior executives and HR departments will continue to face difficulties in securing candidates to bolster business growth. It’s expected that skill shortages in certain industries and professions will be one of the biggest challenges facing companies in 2017. For many businesses, the challenge is to find candidates who have the ideal combination of technical and soft skills who are suitable for mid- to senior-management ranks. Candidates with strong leadership, decision-making, teamwork and cross-cultural management skills will remain in high demand throughout 2017.

3. IPO and M&A: China’s successful efforts to stimulate start-up businesses in a wide range of industries has created some exciting opportunities for professionals to utilise their knowledge and experience to rapidly launch and grow new businesses. Start-up enterprises are not without significant risks and 2017 may show a more slightly cautious approach from industry veterans, keen to ensure that IPO and M&A ambitions can actually be realised, before they shift their career away from the relative stability of working in MNCs.

4. Battle for STEM talent: There is an acute shortage of science, technology, engineering and mathematics talent worldwide, which will prompt employers in China to double their efforts to attract suitable candidates in this field. Talented STEM graduates will also be actively sought after by various organisations amid China’s efforts to diversify its industrial mix. 

5. Tightening regulatory environment: The tightening regulatory environment in China has led to a spike in demand for qualified and experienced audit, risk & compliance candidates, both for in-house and professional practice. Many global MNCs are in the process of establishing internal forensic investigation teams in an effort to provide greater control and visibility to international head offices. We expect this trend to continue in 2017, with strong trading conditions for professional consultancies operating in this niche area.

6. Moderate wage growth: As demonstrated in the past nine editions of the Hays Asia Salary Guide, China has firmly led the region on salary increases. Although this trend will likely continue into 2017, for many industries and job functions, year-on-year increases will likely be more modest, with increases above 10 per cent considered generous. There will always be exceptions for booming industry sectors and niche skill sets, but employers are adjusting to tougher global trading conditions by moderating their fixed salary and payroll expenditure. In 2017, look out for a greater proportion of overall earnings to be attached to performance bonuses, as employers expect greater results for greater remuneration.

7. Outsourcing opportunities: The trend of outsourcing suitable job functions to third party vendors in an effort to minimise costs and improve results has been a growing trend in China over the past few years. 2017 will see this trend intensify as MNCs look for ways to increase productivity and Chinese enterprises seek to leverage the expertise of established partners. Banking, finance, technology, customer service and recruitment & talent management industries will all likely lead the transition to outsourcing, with trusted international vendors able to capitalise on growing demand for their services.

8. Attraction and retention: Top talent is in hot demand and plenty of employers, especially local Chinese organisations, are preparing to pay a premium to secure the best talent out there. As organisations struggle to balance their ability to pay top dollar and with the increasing pressure on profit margins, expect to see some innovative retention strategies in 2017. Flexible working practices, upgraded non-financial benefits, performances bonuses, share options and (perhaps most importantly) being a true ‘employer of choice’ will all be on the priority list for HRDs and CEOs alike.

9. Outbound Chinese investment: In a dynamic global marketplace and with a rapidly shifting economic and political landscape, China is perhaps uniquely positioned to take advantage of the regional and global opportunities available. As China looks to take a larger role on the global stage, opportunities for Chinese enterprises to continue the wave of outbound investment will create some great opportunities for globally mobile talent in 2017.

10. Impact of the millennials: The generation that graduated from university around the turn of the century is now entering their thirties. These middle-management professionals are now preparing to be the senior leaders of the future, and research suggests they are typically ambitious, innovative, technologically-minded, with a strong ethical and environmental conscience. 2017 and beyond promises to be an exciting time for many industries adapting to disruptive technology, rapidly changing business models, unexpected challenges and new opportunities. The impact of millennials in leading the strategic direction of organisations cannot be underestimated and 2017 should see companies looking to harness and develop the potential of their emerging millennial talent.