Chinese jobseekers look further abroad as number of overseas roles rise


The other offer is for a role in Europe promoting new energy storage for a private firm.

Liu, who majored in Russian and international trade, has already spent several years on business trips across the world to promote Chinese-made medical devices.

In China, the current outlook for the job market is quite gloomy; many firms are downsizing their domestic workforce amid the economic slowdown, while a record high of 11.7 million new graduates are expected in 2024. But despite this, overseas vacancies for Chinese workers are rising.

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China’s non-financial outbound direct investment rose 12.7 per cent year on year to US$115.7 billion in the first 11 months of 2023. The investment in countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative rose 20.7 per cent from a year earlier to US$28.6 billion.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, overseas Chinese-funded companies employed a total of 4.1 million people in 2022, over half of them locals, not to mention state-owned contractors which hire many Chinese workers abroad.

Currently, there are several million Chinese people working overseas in oilfields, infrastructure construction sites or Chinese-invested factories.

“We are busy recruiting for branches in the European and American markets for [2024],” said Ray Luo, a human resources manager with a Guangdong-based company that focuses on providing lithium-based battery technology solutions globally.

“We have now grown from dozens a few years ago to currently hundreds of global employees to service the worldwide market,” she said.

According to a white paper released by consultancy iiMedia in August, 29.5 per cent of large enterprises surveyed had already set up an offshore business presence, while 19.9 per cent said they planned to go overseas.

Among the enterprises that have already invested overseas, 39.4 per cent of them are medium-sized firms.

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Industry insiders say many small and medium-sized Chinese businesses are forced to expand overseas by intense domestic competition, while there is also a strong need to tap new markets for such sectors like the lithium battery, photovoltaic and automotive industries.
“Lot of industrial robots-related companies are also developing overseas markets, since domestic demand is becoming weak, suppliers are increasing too fast, and the only way to survive is to go overseas,” said James Yang from Shenzhen, who has recently been hired as a sales engineer to penetrate the European market this year.

Chinese jobseekers have shown a great interest in working overseas, with more than two-thirds of interviewees agreeing to opportunities abroad when they have been offered, according to a survey conducted by Chinese human resources and job search provider 51job earlier last year.

Respondents from the internet, automotive, consumer and energy industries were particularly interested in the overseas positions.

However those who accept overseas roles face many challenges such as cross-cultural communication and business localisation.

02:39

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Not all job locations abroad are equal, either. In the 51job survey, 38 per cent of interviewees were set to work in Europe, 16.7 per cent were going to North America, 15.7 per cent were heading to Japan and Korea, and 9.3 per cent were off to Southeast Asia.

Although Russia is not a preferred destination, Liu was promised to be well compensated should he accept the job.

The package offered by the state-owned enterprise includes considerable social insurances and housing fund contributions, a base salary of 14,000 yuan (US$1,973), and a promising career path as the company’s Russian team is set to be doubled or even tripled this year.

“The project bonuses are also expected to be quite generous as you can see the oncoming significant investment in infrastructure in Russia, like the Far East area,” he said he was told.

Tom Wang, who previously worked as an engineer specialising in North Africa for a Shenzhen-based tech giant, found that salaries and subsidies of such overseas job offers are not as high now as they were in pre-pandemic times.

However, working overseas will become an increasingly popular option as many middle-class families need a stable cash flow to pay their mortgage instalments and family bills.

“The competition in such a sector will become fierce soon,” he said.



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