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Experts,employers and headhunters speak out foreign graduate’s labor market

By Wu Zheyu (chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2016-08-01 14:44

Experts,employers and headhunters speak out foreign graduate’s labor market

Screeshot of the documentary video.[Photo by chinadaily.com.cn]

What is the labor market like for foreign graduates in china, and how do employers deal with the changing situation? Experts, employers and headhunters we interview give their perceptions over this topic. Their feedback and feelings seem polarized regarding the different challenges they are faced with.

1, “We just can’t offer enough qualified candidates for SMEs”

Shang Weidong, a senior headhunter who serves to provide expat talents for Chinese small and medium enterprises, said: ”The total number of foreigners who finally set down and find a job see a sharp decline by roughly 60 to 70 percent in the past several years. Nevertheless, local companies' demand for such talents hasn't shrunk obviously. Three factors have led to the phenomenon: first, the tightening policies including the number of expat work permits and regulations; secondly the environmental degradation and economic downturn in China also discourage foreign graduates to stay.”

There are five fundamental steps for getting a Z visa for foreigners, the most crucial part is getting a work permit, and the key requirements include: Final degree (bachelor or above); work experience (at least two years); Certificate of no criminal conviction.

For most foreign graduates who want to land a job in China, the two-year working experience is the highest threshold.”

2, “Tightening visas in recent years,Illegal foreign workers scales down ”

Andrea Zhou, Associate Director of Student Development, the Beijing Centre for Chinese Studies in UIBE, said that:” Around ten years ago, it was very rare for foreign graduates to hold a Z visa to work in China, at that time, both employers and employees could hardly meet the conditions: on the one hand, very limited enterprises had the ability to help foreigners get Z visas; on the other hand, few foreign graduates’ could meet the requirements for getting Z visas. So the number of foreigners who held tourist visas or even illegal visas to work here was greater.”

However, in recent years, with the tightening regulation and greater attention paid to this issue, more and more companies realized that they should just follow the rules and process the legal procedures to get visas for foreign employees. Correspondingly, it squeezes out those who held illegal visas to work here, which makes this market smaller.

This is a good thing for foreign graduates. If you meet all the conditions, you stay; if you can't meet the conditions, you just leave, and as long as you can stay successfully, all your legal rights would be more firmly protected.”

3, “China aims at top-class foreign talents”

Li Yong, deputy director of the career service center in UIBE (University of International Business and Economics) analysis that:” if the policy opens up for all foreigners, especially for those positions with lower requirement, it would definitely increase the difficulty for local graduates to compete in the labor market. While attracting foreign talent, especially in bottleneck industries, would mean a lot for increasing talent in China.

4, “It should be decided by employers themselves”

Liu Huizhong, the senior consultant from a foreign HR company,said ”According to the cases we’ve already managed, around 30% of foreign jobseekers are new graduates, and their countries of origin include Southeast Asian countries (70%), American and European countries (20%), and African countries (10%). “Among our clients, foreign graduate jobseekers roughly account for 30 percent. Seventy percent of them are from Southeast Asia, 20 percent from American and European countries and 10 percent from Africa.”

"Since the employers are the stakeholders of their foreign work staff, the standards of recruitment for foreign talents should be set up by them. If they believe two-year work experience is not indispensable, why would the government pose unnecessary challenges for these companies’ development?”

"Moreover, the regulations for foreign talent employment need to be more coherent and consistent, considering different local authorities actually have different standards."

5, “Regulations may become more amicable for expat talents in the next few years”

Chen Zhiming, China Daily’s international staff office director,said:“Except the language skill and the Z visa, the considerations of hiring a foreign staff are nearly identical with hiring a local staff. From an employer’s standpoint, the key factor would still be the jobseeker’s competence including academic background, personality and related work experience.

The initial purpose for formulating a stricter policy is to better regulate the foreigner labor market, not to increase the burden for employers or foreign graduates. From my previous experiences of dealing with the government when applying for Z visas for foreign staff, the authority is very reasonable, even when you have special cases and need their help. If more and more excellent foreign graduates have intense motivation to work in China and corporations have urgent demand for these foreign graduates, the petitions from these groups may attract the authority’s attention to formulate a more comprehensive policy to keep these excellent talents in China.”

The policy is under change from what I can tell. Although foreign graduates nowadays who can successfully find a job are the ones who have already had two ears’ ork experience overseas and they obtained the degree in Chinese universities. We recruited a foreign student from Tsinghua University, and when we applied for a visa for him, we didn’t face any difficulties.”

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