China is driving the economy towards a high value-added model
The government has announced the optimisation of the epidemic control measures, recruitment market is expected to rebound and gradually stabilise, according to the Salary Survey 2023 released by Robert Walters, one of the world-leading specialist professional recruitment consultancies. The demand for mid-to-senior professionals with specific technical skills and background is increasing, such as new energy, integrated circuits, medical devices, biopharmaceuticals, and intelligent manufacturing. At the same time, China is driving the economy towards a high value-added model; R&D and engineering talent, as well as skilled professionals in semiconductor, automotive, healthcare, and clean energy are highly sought after.
China market overview
The recruitment market in 2022 has been uncertain in various cities due to periodic lockdowns. As a result, most employers have adopted a conservative approach to business forecasts and have maintained tight control over headcounts.
Manufacturers in China faced various challenges such as rising labour costs, increased raw material prices, energy crisis in Europe, rising global inflation, and tension in US-China relations. In response, many manufacturers, those within green energy and healthcare sectors, have upgraded their technology for supply chain resilience.
On the other hand, many local manufacturing and industrial companies in have expanded their global market share by establishing their plants and footprint in Mexico, the US, Europe, and Southeast Asia. On the tech side, there was a stable development in the fintech/internet sector in Southern China in the first half of 2022. However, the software business saw redundancies and fewer job openings in the second half of the year, while hiring within traditional industries such as consumer electronics, semiconductor, and advanced manufacturing remained stable.
Companies putting legal & compliance hiring top of the agenda
With the implementation of laws and policies related to the Personal Information Security Protection Law (PIPL), the demand for internal legal counsels and compliance professionals has increased drastically. Companies are looking to replace or reduce the use of external law firms and recruit their own legal counsels. In addition to technical skills and experience in legal affairs and compliance, commercial acumen and communication skills are becoming more important. This includes the ability to cooperate with heads of different business lines and instil legal affairs, enhance legal awareness within the company, and strengthen the overall compliance and operation process.
Both multinational corporations and large local companies are looking for similar talent, resulting in talent shortage in the short term. The average salary increments for those staying in the same job are expected to be 4-7 per cent in 2023. Depending on the scarcity of talent and the urgency of the position, the salary increase for in-demand job seekers can range from 20-35 per cent.
Data security sector rapidly growing with hybrid talent in high demand
It is anticipated that the demand for new-tech talent will be hot in 2023, such as cyber security, cloud, and algorithm. Cyber security will continue to be the most popular area in recruitment with shortage in talent persists. In terms of cloud-related positions, key hiring areas will include cloud architecture, cloud computing, cloud security, cloud operation and maintenance. The demand for general technology research and development positions will continue, such as front-end and back-end R&D and product design etc.
Candidates’ abilities to understand the business, analyse logically, make sound business decisions, on top of having similar projects experience are becoming more important. Salary increments for the tech and transformation industry will fluctuate in 2023. Candidates that are most affected by market conditions may have to accept zero salary increment or even a reduction. All-rounded candidates, on the other hand, can expect a relatively high increase when changing jobs, with an increment ranging from 10-30 per cent.
Scarcity in ESG talent supply driving high salary expectations
Environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) issues have become integral to organisational strategies, driven by government requirements for companies to disclose ESG information. This has accelerated a shortage of high-end ESG talent in China, Asia, and around the world, leading to higher salaries for relevant practitioners. Despite market instability, senior ESG practitioners remain in high demand, with job seekers often receiving salary increases of over 40 per cent when joining a new company.
As some ESG subdivisions and professional fields are relatively new, companies are advised to adopt a flexible recruitment approach and consider candidates with the ability or potential to learn quickly on the job. This will address long-term ESG recruitment issues and build a pipeline for sustainable growth.
Changing employee expectations with a greater emphasis on work-life balance
After the pandemic restrictions were lifted, many mid-to-high-level employees gained new insights into workplace culture and flexible work policies. Our survey found that 88 per cent of talent placed greater importance on job security when facing potential economic downturns and rising living costs. Moreover, employees experienced blurred boundaries between work and personal life during the pandemic, leading to a desire for greater work-life balance in the future. More employees hope to work from home and consider companies that can provide flexibility and autonomy as their preferred employers.
Sean Li, General Manager of Robert Walters China, said: ” The government has recently pledged the “employment-first” strategy and will further implement various measures to optimise the epidemic prevention and control policies. Although there will be more talent seeking opportunities in 2023, finding the most suitable candidates is still a challenge for businesses. Establishing a “people-oriented” work culture will be the primary task for companies to retain top talent and ensure sustainable growth.”
Julia Zhu, Director, and Head of the Robert Walters Suzhou Office, added: “In a situation where there is still uncertainty in the market, more professionals are concerned about the stability of their work and the prospects of business development. Therefore, in order to attract candidates and retain employees, companies are strongly recommended to pay attention to team building and development – on one hand showcase the strength of the company’s development to employees, and on the other hand focus on whether candidates’ personal development goals match the company’s strategies.”