CROSS-BOR­DER NANNYING

English-speak­ing nan­nies from China are in huge de­mand, not just at home, but also in for­eign coun­tries where Chi­nese fam­i­lies have em­i­grated to

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI -

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

PHOTOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

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.

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