Author: CHUNG Yoon Ngan
Date: 06-29-12 07:38
Next move, East
By Arunava Das
June 29, 2012 - 12:02pm http://www.chinadailyapac.com
US citizen Ian Hoorneman came to Beijing in 2009 to work as counselor and coordinator of international affairs at the Beijing Royal School. He ran his own educational institution in the US and could have made more money there. However, he believes things will get better in Beijing in the long term.
“In the next 20 years, there will be an opportunity for me to earn a lot more money in China than the sum I could earn in the US,” the American tells China Daily.
With eurozone countries like Spain, Greece, Ireland and Portugal tottering under the impact of the sovereign debt crisis and the US and UK not doing well, China and India, the two fastest-growing economies in Asia, could become the next job frontiers for Western talents.
In Spain, the unemployment rate is one of the highest in the eurozone with about 24 percent of people reportedly out of jobs. Greece is seeing a steady flight of talents.
However, it is not just the slowdown in these countries. Steady growth in China and India in the past one decade is also a major reason for the two Asian giants to embrace western talents to make sure their fast growth does not outstrip their domestic talent pools.
Nirmalya Kumar, who teaches at the London Business School, commented on the phenomenon at a recent event in Dubai. “A new war for professional talent is hotting up like never before and will see huge and developing opportunities for Westerners looking for jobs in India and China,” Kumar said.
This, he added, may set corporate agendas over the next decade.
“Westerners should think of the East as an opportunity,” he tells China Daily Asia Weekly. “The East should also show that they believe in the benefits they can reap (from these Westerners).”
As per the 2010 census, there were over 600,000 expats living in China, including a growing number of US and European students keen to take up internships which are regarded as a passport to jobs in the country.
In just about three and a half years, Chinese online human resource service provider 51job.com has seen its overseas database rise 150 percent at 300,000.
As of early January, 51job.com handled about 65,000 job queries from expats, registering an increase of 20 percent between 2010 and 2011.
The queries were mostly for positions in finance, insurance, hotels, energy, environmental protection, electronics and car manufacturing, Feng Lijuan, its chief consultant, told reporters.
“Twenty-five years ago, ChemChina was spun off from China National Bluestar with a staff of just seven. Now we employ 160,000 people. We employ many people from Western countries, including at the management level,” Ren Jianxin, president, China National Chemical Corporation, was quoted as saying in a PricewaterhouseCoopers paper, Talent Mobility 2020.
“We work with leading human resource consultancies to recruit more Western professionals.”
“China is growing at breakneck speed and needs a steady supply of talent,” says B.R. Deepak, who teaches at the Centre of Chinese and Southeast Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. “Able professionals from the West can fit the bill.”
Moreover, many Western companies have shifted their manufacturing bases to China in the past few years.
“These companies need more experienced professionals, preferably from the West, to handle their operations. China is no longer considered a backwater among Westerners,” Deepak adds.
Cory York, CEO of Mumbai-based SociaLinked Digital Commerce, left Toronto 10 years ago and moved to India’s finance capital Mumbai because “that’s where the cards fell”.
“Coming to India has offered me a rich and diverse experience — not only from the business perspective but also from the personal growth side as well,” the 28-year-old tells China Daily Asia Weekly.
And now he says he has started looking at China, which he describes as “exciting”. “I encourage people from the West to come and explore, work and pursue opportunities in India and China,” he says.
The number of job-seekers in India from the West is slowly rising, according to Hitesh Oberoi, CEO of naukri.com, a leading job site in India.
According to Oberoi, about 65,000 expatriates, mostly from the US and the UK, are working in India.
The fast-growing economies of the two countries are drawing job seekers from the West despite deterrents like relatively low salaries, cultural and social differences and language barriers.
Nirmalya Ganguly, who works with global law firm Clifford Chance in London, says these are not big issues for a growing number of people in Europe who face pay-cuts or retrenchments. Many consider China and India as fast-growing economies and see an opportunity to be part of it.
“Living in London, I can say that these two countries, especially China, are very much on the radar of professionals here,” he says.
P. C. Suraj, senior analyst, corporate marketing, at Mphasis in India’s southern city of Bengaluru, ticks off the reasons why Western professionals, especially from the US and the UK, are preferred.
“First, they speak English. In India, English enjoys wider acceptance than the national language, Hindi. In China (too) it is fast gaining in importance.
“Second, generally, Westerners are hard working, deadline-driven and truly professional. And third, they can lead teams.”
This trend, he says, will be good for young domestic talents in the long run even though they will have to face tougher competition.
Many expatriates say money is not the sole motivation for them. York, for instance, says he wanted to discover India and follow its growth story.
“I have been in e-commerce since I was 14 years old,” he says. “India had very little e-commerce happening when I arrived 10 years ago. I looked at that as a big opportunity. There’s an old story about two shoe companies who sent executives over to India to look at the market.
“One came back and said, ‘Forget it! No one wears shoes in India. We should stay away.’ The other executive called back and said, ‘Send everything we got. Everyone needs shoes here! India should be our focus point!’ It’s kind of the same story for me.”
His experience of working in India has been both good and bad.
“Changing from Canada to India, you challenge your comfort levels in many areas,” he says. “On the work front, you have to adjust to cultural norms around the workplace, learn how to work differently, and build trust with your colleagues.
“It’s important to make sure communication is crystal clear and everyone understands the task at hand.”
However, P. Balendran, vice-president of General Motors India, has a caveat: Asia should not end up as a sanctuary for mediocre Western professionals and “eurozone escapees”.
“Talent and skills matter,” he tells China Daily Asia Weekly. “India will certainly benefit if we get the best candidates from the West but to ensure that, proper screening is needed. Salary and perks should depend on experience, expertise and the ability to contribute significantly.”
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