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Talent shortage gives expats a wages boost
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Overseas talent working on China's mainland saw their salaries grow over the past year - a result of the country's shortage of high-level native professionals.

The study, conducted by the international human resources service company Hewitt Associates, profiled 551 positions of people coming from Western countries, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other Asian regions, foreigners hired on the Chinese mainland and Chinese who have worked overseas but returned.

The group with the highest percentage increase in salaries were top executive-level Chinese who returned from overseas and managed a rise of 9.4 percent from four percent for the previous year.

Westerners in senior executive positions - including Europeans, Canadians and Americans - overtook last year's top pay group from Hong Kong and Singapore to lead the cash race with an average US$393,743 per annum.

Hong Kong and Singapore professionals came next earning an average US$354,249 each year.

Foreign executives hired on the Chinese mainland, rather than those assigned by overseas companies, were paid an average of US$331,693, the study reported.

Michael Song, head of Hewitt's China compensation and benefits measurement consulting practice, said pay increases had been spurred by China's shortage of senior executives.

"China has experienced tremendous growth in recent years. However, this has led to shortages within the talent market and a frustrating gap in leadership," Song said.

As a result, he added, many organizations were turning to overseas talent to fill the gap.

The study revealed that 55 percent of the 142 participating organizations planned to increase the number of expats hired next year, slightly higher than the 53 percent for last year.

European and American expats are no longer the largest expat group in China, representing just 21 percent of all expats this year. Last year they made up 25 percent and in 2005 were nearly 31 percent.

The Japanese form the largest nationality group of the 119,876 overseas people working in Shanghai, Hewitt analysts said.

A salary report released by Hewitt last month showed that salaries for Chinese staff rose by an average eight percent this year.

Taihe Consulting, one of the largest HR service providers in China, reported last year that Chinese professionals at corporate decision-making levels earned between 500,000 yuan (US$67,567) and 600,000 yuan on average per year.

(Shanghai Daily, December 6, 2007)

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