Home / Education / News Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read
Big Bucks Not the Only Issue for Chinese Abroad
Adjust font size:

"The coming years will see a war for talent," said Adrian Wooldridge in The Economist's 2007 special edition. With the baby-boom generation now reaching retirement age, companies in the developed economies have been increasingly looking to attract the best from all over the world.


Developing countries such as China also face a looming talent shortage at the more sophisticated end of the economy. From this perspective, China's foreign-educated students, who have the potential to meet this demand both globally and domestically, have been granted outstanding career opportunities.


However, they may face a trade-off between career advancement at home and higher salaries abroad. Choosing between the two remains one of their biggest challenges.


In 2006, the total number of Chinese students abroad reached 134,000. Of this number, 121,000 paid for their own education. According to UNESCO, China had the world's largest number of overseas students in 2006.


For many who have chosen to stay abroad, the big gap between their personal expectations and the reality at home has created the main barrier to returning home. One major consideration is the difference in salaries. University graduates working for the same multinational corporation could be paid 10 times more in real terms in London than in Shanghai.


While employers in the West are able to attract talented Chinese students by offering competitive salaries, they often simply throw their recruits into a melting pot, failing to utilize their Chinese employees' contacts and cultural knowledge to exploit business opportunities in China.


When it comes to promotions, Chinese employees overseas usually find themselves in a weaker position than their homegrown colleagues due to the language barrier and less knowledge of the local business environment. Both are key to career advancement.


In order to address this trade-off between higher salaries and greater career prospects, Chinese employers and the government should consider increasing financial incentives to reduce the gap with their Western competitors.


Also, companies in the West need to develop initiatives to leverage employee knowledge more effectively.


As foreign companies recognize the contribution of cultural knowledge to the success of their China operations, they can help resolve the career conflict by offering Chinese employees abroad more opportunities for career advancement.


Chinese students themselves should also not let myopic interests blind them to the long-term prospects.


China is waiting for her younger generation to exploit the world's most dynamic marketplace.


In this respect, foreign-educated Chinese can be greatly successful by combining their expertise learned from the West with the opportunities at home.


A more balanced view between financial incentives and personal achievement will certainly help people to better identify such opportunities.


Tackling the challenge of opportunity is not only in the best interest of all foreign-educated students. It is also in the interest of both domestic and foreign companies seeking to establish or expand operations in China.


As Andrew Grant, head of McKinsey Greater China put it: "This is an era of globalization, but also one in which multinationals are becoming increasingly local."


By offering the younger generation of China better opportunities and helping them to achieve their goals, corporations and the government could better realize the value of this intellectual asset, opening China's future to many more possibilities.


By Zun Wang


The author is president of the Oxford Management Consulting Society for Undergraduates


(China Daily June 15, 2007)

Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read

Related Stories
China Hit by Brain Drain, Report Says
Overseas PhD Students Upset at Salary Offers
National Foundation to Help Overseas-educated Chinese Return Home
Carrot Tactics to Lure the Talented
Privileges Granted to Chinese Students Abroad
Brain Drain Problem Most Serious in the World
SiteMap | About Us | RSS | Newsletter | Feedback
Copyright © China.org.cn. All Rights Reserved     E-mail: webmaster@china.org.cn Tel: 86-10-88828000 京ICP证 040089号