Expat managers in China face tough competition from local talent

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Foreign professional in China is facing tough competition from local people, who have to speak fluent English and have experience abroad.

According to a recent survey conducted by Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC), a lot of foreign people, who occupy top management roles including chief executive officers and chief operating officers, are finding themselves facing more severe competition from local peers.

Evermore Chinese executives are spending time abroad, working for international companies outside China and are getting acquainted with Western working practices and increasing their foreign language skills and knowledge.

Many foreign managers think that the reason why expats are needed in China have eroded.

Local professionals at the same time have similar working experiences as the foreigners and in addition to that have the advantage of understanding the local culture and language better.

Another factor is that companies now have to make social insurance contributions on behalf of their foreign workers, making hiring them very expensive.

According to the AESC survey, the majority of the expats executives (around 72%), think that it is now very hard to gain access to the top-level management positions in China.

Some of them think that Chinese employers prefer hiring local people, while others consider the pay gap between the locals and the foreigners as very narrow.

Peter Felix, president of AESC thinks that if expats want to reverse this trend they should start investing more money and time in widening their cultural and language skills and joining some Chinese social networks so that they become more easily considered for executive positions in local and international companies.

Despite the results of the survey, the expat labour market in China is very active. Around 51% of the foreign workers state that they are looking for new career opportunities.

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