Changing times for expat positions in China

Why is China becoming increasingly attractive to European expats - and what are the top jobs for foreign workers?

Shanghai cityscape at night time
The change in opportunities for expat professionals in China has been highlighted this week by the 2019 Job Fair for Foreigners in Beijing.

What are the top jobs for expats in China?

Whereas in the past the market has been dominated by language teachers, it has now been overtaken by the service sector, IT and media industries as major job sources for expats in China.Figures from the job fair, organised on Sunday by the Foreign Talent Research Centre (FTRC) and the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, showed that about half the half the 1,000-plus jobs on offer were in the sales, media, marketing and IT sectors, including openings for journalists, brand and communication managers and software engineers.

Expat jobs in China: Mandarin proficiency for the best salaries

"A certain level of Mandarin proficiency is an advantage," said Yang Jiayin, project manager at the FTRC. "The best-paying jobs generally require the ability to speak Mandarin. Positions that require fluent spoken and written Mandarin tend to pay more than the same jobs without the language requirement."Mr Yang said the income gap between expatriates and Chinese employees in the same positions had been reduced in past decades. He said that while, in the early 2000s, the annual salary of a foreign employee would be between five and ten times higher than that of an indigenous worker, the gap had now narrowed to "about two to three times" mainly as a result of an improvement in salaries paid to Chinese staff.Relocate Festival of Global People 2019

Why is China becoming increasingly attractive to European expats?

Statistics from the State Administration of Foreign Expert Affairs also showed that China was becoming increasingly attractive to European expats and those from other Asian countries because of its rapid economic growth and a widening range of opportunities.Data from the previous 10 years at the Beijing job fair showed that more than 50 per cent of professional job seekers came from European nations - with Spain and Portugal proving the principal centres of interest - while about 25 per cent were from elsewhere in Asia, the majority from India.Khan Ghulam, a 32-year-old Pakistani software engineer, told the China Daily newspaper that he had been working for a China-US joint venture for two years and had attended the fair in a bid to find a higher-paying job in a Chinese start-up."China has a promising future with its growing power in the international society, and it gives young people more opportunities, which I believe will attract lots of job seekers abroad," he said.Last year, China issued about 336,000 work permits to foreigners and, by the end of 2018, had a total of more than 950,000 expats working in the country, according to official figures. By comparison, there were only 180,000 foreign workers employed in China in 1996.

Pizza and burgers to go: the booming market in fast food for expats in China

The increasing number of expats working in China has also boosted related services targeting foreigners."As more expats seek jobs in China, many find difficulty in maintaining their dietary habits. Finding a restaurant serving familiar food and getting fast food delivery services are two major problems," said Liu Chao, marketing director of an online bilingual food delivery company called Sherpa's, which now has 100,000 foreign customers."Expats are an emerging consumption group with great potential. China holds great charm for foreign expats, but they'll stay here longer only with more life conveniences."
Subscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory