English-speaking nannies from China are in huge demand, not just at home, but also in foreign countries where Chinese families have emigrated to
Service, said that the demand for domestic helpers is expected to increase by 30 percent this year, and is in part driven by the growing number of Chinese families that have emigrated overseas.
Yang added that the company started offering its services to overseas clients in 2012 after it noticed that many Chinese immigrants in foreign lands were in need of such professionals. About 10 percent of the company’s business is from these overseas clients.
“We’ve seen obvious growth in demand for nannying services from overseas, where both Chinese and Western families are looking for experienced workers, especially maternity matrons, who can speak English and Chinese and take care of their children,” said Yang.
Jason Zheng is one such customer. The 36-year-old Chinese regularly hires domestic helpers from Xinmu International to work in his home in Seattle, United States where he and his family are based for most of the year.
“I think it was a wise decision to hire a nanny when we moved to the US in 2014, as we’ve gotten used to life with two nannies at our home in Zhejiang province,” said Zheng, who noted that many Chinese families in the US also prefer to hire helpers from their homeland, claiming that Li Jie,
local help costs as much but is less productive.
But hanging onto good help is difficult for these overseas families. According to Cindy Xu, a marketing manager at CCShanghai, a domestic services company that caters mainly to wealthy families, most of these professionals can only obtain tourist visas.
“The period of time that a nanny can stay abroad is limited as they hold tourist visas which last between three and six months. As such, we have to change nannies for our overseas clients regularly if they specifically request for those who are from China,” said Xu.
Wu Yanqin, for example, once had her two applications for a work permit in the US rejected. While she mostly works for expatriate families in Shanghai, she has also been hired overseas before, usually because her current employers move abroad and bring her along to help out in the interim period while they find local helpers.
“It is extremely difficult for us nannies to apply for a work permit as the US government doesn’t view it as an essential job. Also, the interview procedures for a tourist visa have been getting stricter, too,” said the 46-year-old.
“If the visa application regulations are relaxed, I will probably accept more short-term job offers from abroad to see the world and broaden my horizons.”
CCShanghai currently has about 5,000 regular clients and a network of 8,000 domestic helpers all over the world. The company offers regular language and skills training courses for their workers so that they will be ready for deployment as soon as a job offer arrives.
“Our next step is to follow the market changes closely. These days, more and more local and overseas clients are requesting for those who have been trained as private butlers,” said Xu.
But apart from the domestic helpers who are being sent abroad, some of their Chinabased counterparts who can speak English are commanding good salaries too.
Following years of self learning the language and working with expatriate families in China, Yang Xiaorong is now so proficient in English that she even teaches part-time at a community school in Shanghai every Saturday. She earns 10,000 yuan a month as a nanny.
The 44-year-old, who graduated from a middle school in Anhui province and came to Shanghai in 2005 in search of a job, said that it is now common to see local English-speaking nannies working for foreign families in Shanghai, especially so in the more affluent neighborhoods in the city.
“More and more nannies who used to work for local families are now learning English so that they can work for foreign families as they offer better pay, more respect and more flexible working hours,” said Yang, who currently works for a Canadian family and helps take care of their baby, in addition to household chores.
Yang has not looked back ever since making the switch to work for foreign families, saying she prefers the open-mindedness and warmth of the Western culture.
According to statistics from the Association of Shanghai Family Service Trade, there are more than 2,400 registered companies supplying domestic services to families in the city. Many of the association’s members have in recent times added services for expats.
“The demands for domestic services by expats have grown rapidly in the past three to five years and this is expected to continue,” said Zhang Fang, the secretary general of Association of Shanghai Family Service Trade.
“As a result, domestic helpers will be given more training to help them level up their language abilities and service standards so that they can help expat families settle down seamlessly in the city.”
I prefer to work abroad with clients as they tend to treat me like a member of their families, rather than just an employee.” an English-speaking maternity matron in Shanghai
Maternity matrons, domestic helpers who specialize in childcare duties, are coveted by Chinese families home and abroad. Those who can speak English command salaries upwards of 10,000 yuan.
Yang Xiaorong, a nanny and part-time English teacher, prefers working for Western families because of their open-mindness and warmth.