The Beijing municipal government gave the green light on Wednesday to foreign companies wishing to open employment agencies in the Chinese capital.
The Beijing Personnel Bureau said that foreign human-resources companies could do business in conjunction with local certified human-resources companies.
The foreign companies should also have the appropriate certificates and experience in the industry, the bureau said.
Solely foreign-funded human-resources companies are still not permitted because "the market condition in the job-hunting industry is far from mature," added the bureau.
Xin Tieliang, director of the Beijing Personnel Bureau, said the measure is in tune with Beijing's progress in opening up.
"This will help Beijing create a better environment for fostering professionals and other badly needed specialists," Xin said.
As China's capital, Beijing has attracted many international companies to invest in various industries in recent years, especially since China joined the World Trade Organization last November. But Beijing's human-resources industry lags far behind what the market demands.
Beijing now has 177 certified human-resources companies. But Xin admitted that most of those companies lack experience when it comes to professionals with advanced expertise.
"So we hope the entry of foreign human-resources companies can bring advanced experience in the introduction and training of professional personnel," Xin said.
China's human-resources market has long been under the pressure of international headhunting companies, which have huge investment and worldwide information networks.
Even Minister of Personnel Zhang Xuezhong has admitted: "The issue of hunting more well-trained professionals will become a significant factor determining a country's comprehensive competitive capacity and its future prosperity."
Faced with such a situation, China has started to seek a new mechanism to select, introduce and use talented people while ensuring that a steady supply of such people is maintained.
Despite the imminent change in regulations, some large foreign headhunting companies have already worked in China in some way for several years.
They have offered a range of recruitment and headhunting services under the guise of "human-resources consultancy."
(China Daily June 21, 2002)