China strapped for managerial talent

PHOTO: China strapped for managerial talent

CHINA - China will experience the most severe managerial shortage in the world in the second half of the year, continuing a five-year trend, according to a survey of executive search consultants.

That was the finding of 43 per cent of the consultants in 15 geographical regions surveyed by the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC), an industry group.

Despite China's prosperity, people in the search industry see its economic growth as threatened by a dearth of professionals with Mandarin and English skills who are also familiar with the local and business culture and willing to relocate on short notice.

"There isn't enough talent that fits the bill locally and not enough international talent equipped with the knowledge to take on the local Chinese market," said Mr Joe Chappell, AESC global marketing director. The shortage "is not expected to wane any time soon", he said.

AESC president Peter Felix said in a news release that it is no surprise to see executive talent shortages in China and other developing nations "already affecting these countries' ability to fulfil their growth aspirations".

Mr Rick Dai, chief executive officer of the Beijing-based Wisest Consulting executive search firm, said in March that the management shortage in China "will become very serious in the coming year or so".

Mr Dai added: "Year by year, the gap is becoming bigger and bigger. The shortage will certainly not be satisfied in the next three to five years."

The Financial Times reported in April that China's under-developed business-education system is unable to produce upper management candidates fast enough to meet demand in the world's second-largest economy.

In the past, international companies offset local managerial shortages by bringing in Taiwanand Hong Kong-born executives, hiring Chinese-born graduates returning from international universities or sending out expatriates, the Financial Times reported, adding that these managers can lack an instinct for local markets.

Cash-strapped global companies are also starting to baulk at the cost of sending out expatriates, the newspaper said.

For the report, AESC analysed 142 responses from AESC executive search consultants around the world.

The sectors expected to experience the greatest demand for senior executive talent in the second half of the year are health care and life sciences, energy and natural resources and manufacturing, according to the report.