The Belt and Road Initiative: what are the impacts on recruitment in China?

By Robert Half on 25 July 2019

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is one of China’s most ambitious projects. It aims to strengthen Beijing’s economic leadership and improve international connectivity through an extensive infrastructure program throughout China and neighbouring regions.

With USD50 billion invested and 101 agreements signed with 86 countries to date, there is no doubt that it will radically transform the Chinese economy and business landscape.

But what is the impact to recruitment? And what can businesses do to ensure that they have the talent they need to achieve their own ambitious plans?

While the long-term impacts are yet to be fully understood, it is clear that there will be significant shifts in the Chinese labour force; from increased job opportunities locally and abroad, to increases in salary and an increased appetite for external recruitment expertise.

Here are four key ways that the Belt and Road Initiative will affect recruitment – and what managers can do to be prepared.

1. More jobs are being created

The BRI has so far created 200,000 jobs, with more anticipated in the coming years. Companies involved with the BRI are rapidly expanding, and as such, they are investing in talent to help support this growth. Specific areas in-demand include:

Companies involved with the BRI would be prudent to conduct an audit of the skills required to fulfil the demands of these initiatives and consider whether their existing staff have the requisite skills. They must then invest in training to upskill staff to fill these gaps, or look to increase their headcount.

2. More international job opportunities

Foreign investment in China is increasing by 6.1% year-on-year. With greater international investment and improved global connectivity, Chinese candidates may find new opportunities to work abroad. Working in a foreign country gives top candidates opportunities to learn new skills, have new experiences and extend their knowledge base.

As markets become more open, the reverse can also apply. Managers should also consider what foreign talent can bring to their organisation by way of new perspectives and skillsets to help bolster their growth strategies.

3. Companies will consult external recruitment expertise

With rapid expansion plans, companies are growing faster than they can fill headcounts. They will need to move swiftly to secure talent, and as such, companies will look for fast and professional recruitment solutions, turning to recruitment companies to find suitable candidates.

In a rapidly shifting market, an experienced recruitment professional can advise on the skills required, as well as assist in filling talent gaps.

4. Salaries are likely to increase

With a higher demand for talent, candidates are better placed to negotiate higher salaries. Companies should review benchmarks and ensure salaries are competitive, and be prepared to negotiate. Check out the Robert Half Salary Guide for benchmarks.

Whilst the long term effects of the BRI on the recruitment market are yet to be fully realised, companies can prepare themselves by ensuring they have the right skillsets, remunerating competitively and surrounding themselves with the right advisors.

In a rapidly changing market, it’s important that companies don’t run before they can walk; they need to ensure they have the right talent foundations to help them achieve their growth plans.


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