Multi-skilled tal­ent in de­mand on BRI

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By LIU YUKUN li­[email protected]­

China’s surg­ing num­ber of Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive projects in over­seas mar­kets have spurred big de­mand for multi-dis­ci­plinary spe­cial­ists, ex­perts said.

Wang Yi­wei, pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions at the Ren­min Univer­sity of China, said that the BRI aims at build­ing a global com­mu­nity with a shared fu­ture, and that goal re­quires in­dus­try peo­ple to have not just do­main ex­per­tise but a thor­ough un­der­stand­ing of lan­guages, cul­tures, and many other as­pects.

Wang made his com­ments in a con­grat­u­la­tory let­ter to the third Belt and Road Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Re­search Con­fer­ence, an in­dus­try event fea­tur­ing dis­cus­sions on tal­ent train­ing for Chi­nese com­pa­nies in their over­seas BRI projects, and those that have the need to hire lo­cal em­ploy­ees.

With grow­ing num­ber of Chi­nese com­pa­nies set­ting up branches over­seas, the need for multi-skilled pro­fes­sion­als is on the rise.

A re­cent in­dus­try re­port re­vealed that over 70 per­cent of cen­tral Sta­te­owned en­ter­prises or SOEs think a short­age of multi-skilled pro­fes­sion­als has ham­pered their over­seas busi­ness op­er­a­tions, af­fect­ing per­for­mance.

The re­port was co-pub­lished by the State-owned As­sets Su­per­vi­sion and Ad­min­is­tra­tion Com­mis­sion of the State Coun­cil and the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences.

“To­day many in­dus­trial lead­ers are talk­ing about tal­ent gap. They need peo­ple that can help solve prob­lems re­gard­ing cross-cul­tural com­mu­ni­ca­tions, le­gal is­sues, lan­guage bar­ri­ers, and many oth­ers,” said Zhong Hongwu, divi­sion chief for cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity re­search at the CASS.

How­ever, com­pared with hir­ing more staff, those com­pa­nies pre­fer to see their over­seas staff, mostly in­dus­try ex­perts and en­gi­neers, equip­ping them­selves with multi-dis­ci­plinary skills for the sake of re­duced op­er­a­tional costs, Zhong said.

Zhong’s view is borne out by the fact that about 96 per­cent of cen­tral SOEs have sched­uled train­ing ses­sions be­fore send­ing their staff over­seas. Such train­ing cov­ers as­pects re­lated to lo­cal cul­ture and le­gal sys­tems, lan­guage, se­cu­rity, and an­ticor­rup­tion pol­icy.

De­spite dif­fer­ences in their busi­ness op­er­a­tions, most com­pa­nies sur­veyed have sim­i­lar pref­er­ences on top­ics for staff train­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, over 90 per­cent of cen­tral SOEs pri­or­i­tize train­ing in lo­cal le­gal sys­tems for their staff. About 74 per­cent of cen­tral SOEs im­part train­ing in lo­cal en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, and 68 per­cent of cen­tral SOEs have ini­ti­ated other mea­sures to strengthen their staff’s aware­ness of en­ergy-sav­ing mea­sures, emis­sion re­duc­tion, and pro­tec­tion of eco­log­i­cal habi­tats.

“Al­though lack­ing em­pha­sis in our re­port, it is worth notic­ing that cross-cul­tural com­mu­ni­ca­tions are a chal­lenge to most of com­pa­nies that have set up branches in over­seas mar­kets, as cul­tural dif­fer­ences can im­pact their in­ter­na­tional busi­ness per­for­mance,” Zhong said.

Suc­cess­ful cross-cul­tural com­mu­ni­ca­tions re­quire mul­ti­ple at­tempts from com­pa­nies to ne­go­ti­ate and me­di­ate cul­tural dif­fer­ences in their over­seas op­er­a­tions.

Many, ac­cord­ing to Zhong, have made tremen­dous CSR ef­forts to build up good re­la­tions with lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, and set up or­ga­ni­za­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tion mech­a­nisms to pro­mote in­ter­per­sonal com­mu­ni­ca­tions within the cor­po­rate con­cerned.

Power Con­struc­tion Corp of China, or Pow­erChina, is one of the cen­tral SOEs that has made great ef­forts in strength­en­ing re­la­tion­ships with lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

The group has helped ren­o­vate lo­cal churches, schools, roads and many other in­fras­truc­tural fa­cil­i­ties in Karuma of Uganda, where it has set up a hy­dropower plant.

“We felt im­por­tant to bond with lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties for a win-win out­come and those moves are an in­te­gral part of our ef­forts to build up a com­mu­nity with a shared fu­ture,” said Zhou Jian­ping, chief en­gi­neer of Pow­erChina.

De­spite good out­comes of their CSR ef­forts, Zhou said that the is­sue of cul­tural gap is chal­leng­ing, and the com­pany wel­comes pro­fes­sion­als with cross-cul­tural back­grounds.

“We hope there will be third-party agen­cies that can of­fer train­ing to our staff in cross-cul­tural com­mu­ni­ca­tions,” Zhou said.

Lo­cal staff ac­count for about 90 per­cent of the em­ploy­ees in some com­pa­nies’ over­seas branches. Many have set up their com­mu­ni­ca­tions team for the first time, Zhou said.

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