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Job fairs begin to work better for foreigners

05-06-2011 14:32 BJT

BEIJING, May 6 (Xinhuanet) --Offers becoming more varied as growing number of professionals from overseas seek employment in China, reports Wang Yan in Beijing.

Foreigners discuss employment opportunities at a job fair in a Beijing hotel on
April 16. More than 1,600 vacancies, across an ever-increasing range, were on
offer.(Source: China Daily)

Spring marks the high season for recruitment, when college students rush to job fairs before graduation in June. Stephen Baron, 25, was part of the throng.

The difference is that the fair he went to was especially for foreigners.

Baron came to China from England in September 2009. He is studying Chinese at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and expects to complete the program in July. He graduated with a master's degree in international business in 2010 from the University of Nottingham Ningbo, China.

Shuttling among the employers' booths at a one-day April job fair in Beijing, Baron said he is equally open to jobs in any suitable field, although his primary choice is in management consultancy.

He came to the right place at the right time, at least in Xia Bing's opinion. Xia is director of the Information Research Center of International Talent at the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA), sponsors of the job fair.

"The job offers are becoming ever more varied," Xia said. "In our first job fair a few years ago, all offers were for teaching positions that only focused on language skills or the cultural background of the applicants. It didn't change much even after the third fair, when about 95 percent of the openings were for teaching positions. Now teaching positions make up only half of the offers."

Those positions, he said, include jobs in the media, information technology, manufacturing, finance and medicine.

SAFEA started holding job fairs for foreigners in January 2005. Only 17 employers and 25 foreign job hunters showed up. "In contrast, we saw about 1,200 to 1,500 job hunters coming to the job fair this year," Xia said.

His office said 460,000 foreign experts were working in China last year, up from 440,000 in 2008, and the SAFEA job fair is the only one in the country that targets foreigners. The April fair was the eighth in Beijing and the 11th nationwide, and more than 130 employers set up stands, looking to fill about 1,600 job vacancies.

The hirers came from Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shanxi, Liaoning, Heilongjiang, Anhui, Fujian, Shandong, Guangdong, Jiangsu and other cities and provinces. Among them were representatives of the Beijing Economic and Technology Development Zone, Shougang Group, China Gezhouba (Group) Corp and China Agricultural University.

More than 130 employers, offering 1,600 vacancies, set up stands at a job fair
for foreigners in Beijing in April. A growing number of foreigners are seeking
career opportunities in China.(Source: China Daily)

Higher skill level

Based on his observations at the job fair, Xia said, "Domestic companies have developed to the level where they have a solid need for foreign experts in terms of professional knowledge and skills." In the past, he said, some companies hired laowai (slang for "foreigner") for show.

Late last year, domestic media covered a thriving trend known as bairen chong menmian, "white guy window dressing": Job agencies offer white- and dark-skinned men and women from Europe, North America, Australia and Africa to Chinese business owners, who hire them to pose as employees or partners at important meetings with dignitaries or potential investors.

According to previous reports, companies have been using the ethically questionable tactic for some time to boost credibility or present an image of being internationally connected.

The employers coming to the job fair, Xia said, were definitely looking for talent beyond appearance.

He named the Gezhouba Group, a hydroelectric construction company, as an example. "It is their first time here to hire foreign experts. In the past they had no such needs. Now, with fast development, they are looking for management, marketing and technical talents.

"During our first three sessions a few years ago," Xia said, "the job hunters were mainly college graduates. Now, about half have completed grad school, and 8 percent have a PhD."

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