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China’s resilience drives salary growth:

Hays Salary Guide released
Updated: 20 Jan 2016
  • 72 per cent of employers in China gave a salary increase above six per cent last year;
  • Looking ahead, 81 per cent of employers in China will increase salaries above six per cent;
  • Fewer employers will award bonuses, with the use of benefits instead rising.

China is the standout for salary growth across Asia, with over 80 per cent of employers intending to increase salaries above six per cent this year, according to the 2012 Hays Salary Guide.

Released today, the 2012 Hays Salary Guide reveals salary and recruiting trends for 1,100 roles across China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan and was based on a survey of over 900 employers as well as placements made by Hays.

It found that 18 per cent of employers in China increased salaries last year between three and six per cent. A further 51 per cent increased salaries between six and ten per cent and 21 per cent offered an increase above ten per cent. Five per cent gave increases of less than three percent, while the final five per cent gave no increase at all.

Looking ahead, 13 per cent of employers in China intend to increase salaries between three and six per cent when they next review. A further 52 per cent will increase salaries from six to ten per cent and 29 per cent will increase by more than ten per cent. Just four per cent of employers intend to increase salaries less than three per cent and two per cent intend to offer no increases when they next review.

“Despite current global economic conditions, China’s economy remains resilient,” says Simon Lance, Regional Director of Hays in China. “In 2012, we expect to see many businesses securing key talent to drive expansion plans. Indeed in a global context Asia is a stand out performer.

“Within the region, China is the stand out in terms of salary increases. Clearly the Chinese workforce is aware of their market worth and is more confident about their negotiating position. Looking ahead, over 80 per cent of employers in China expect to increase salaries above six per cent. By comparison, in Japan 98 per cent expect to offer six per cent or less.

“According to our survey of employers, in the next 12 months 64 per cent of employers expect business activity to increase and 41 per cent expect their permanent staff levels to increase. This means that those candidates with in-demand skills and realistic salary expectations can be confident that this year will provide them with the opportunity to secure a challenging career move and a salary increase.

“But skills shortages will remain an ongoing issue. According to our survey of employers across Asia, almost all (95 per cent) believe that skills shortages have the potential to hamper the effective operation of their business or department.

“Furthermore, in skill-short areas 66 per cent of employers said they would consider employing or sponsoring a qualified overseas candidate.

“According to our survey, 54 per cent of employers intend to award a bonus to more than 50 per cent of staff, down 10 per cent year-on-year. Instead, the use of benefits is rising. They are now offered by 81 per cent of employers, up from 78 per cent year-on-year. Health, life assurance, housing allowance, pension and car or car allowance are popular benefits.”

According to the 2012 Hays Salary Guide, trends for China by sector are as follows:

  • Accountancy & Finance:
    Many MNCs are localising their operations to take advantage of the positive Chinese economy. Demand for accountancy and finance professionals is therefore expected to remain strong and candidates are gaining confidence in the range of opportunities available to them.
  • Architecture:
    China’s massive growth is resulting in the requirement for more commercial, residential and industrial structures, which is leading to continued prosperity for Architects, particularly intermediate and mid-level Designers with bilingual capabilities. Salary expectations are surprising some employers as they struggle to balance fairness to existing staff with the need to attract new talent.
  • Banking:
    The emphasis of the banking sector in China is on taking market share alongside a focus on risk management and controls; candidates are increasingly expected to be multi lingual as well as understand China’s regulatory requirements.
  • Education:
    Demand is high for Physics, Economics and chemistry teachers. Western style education continues to grow in popularity as students prepare to attend overseas universities. We are also seeing substantial growth is the ESL sector. Activity is also high within business schools and employers look for seasoned professionals with a MNC or Fortune 500 background.
  • Engineering & Construction:
    Major infrastructure projects that support the oil and gas, clean energy, healthcare and retail industries, in addition to entertainment facilities, are driving this sector. Candidates with specialist infrastructure expertise within tunnelling, planning and geology are sought. Employers also want Engineers and Project Managers with exposure to the retail industry for new shopping centres in 2nd and 3rd tier cities.
  • Finance Technology:
    There has been a focus on bringing in returning nationals to serve as localised technology leaders. Their financial sector knowledge and experience are used to deliver projects and lead local staff. Also in demand are candidates with cash equities, fixed income and commodities domain experience as well as Software Developers, Business Analysts and Project Managers.
  • Human Resources:
    C&B candidates are in high demand, with talent shortages in Tier 2, 3 and even 4 areas. Plant HR and Site HR Managers with experience in a multinational corporation are also needed. Candidates look for a role that broadens their HR skills and increases their decision making. They will move to such a role for a small salary increase.
  • Information Technology:
    China is becoming a research and development (R&D) base for the global IT market, which is leading to increased demand for junior and middle level Developers. Technological Managers and English speaking IT support candidates and Developers are needed. More local candidates are filling roles previously occupied by expatriates, and all candidates need to keep their salary expectations realistic.
  • Life Sciences:
    China is an increasingly attractive R&D outsourcing destination for foreign pharmaceutical companies. International healthcare companies also continue to expand. Employers are committed to hiring and will review salary offers and expatriate packages to ensure they remain competitive.
  • Manufacturing & Operations:
    China’s auto manufacturing industry is on a fast development track and we anticipate salaries to rise. At the same time, the competition in China has kept the salary benchmark higher. Site Managers with a solid technological background and strong management skills and Business Development and Product Engineering candidates are needed. R&D VPs and Directors are also in demand, along with Sales, Production and Supply Chain Managers. MNCs are speeding up their senior management localisation programs, which gives local talent the opportunity to step up.
  • Oil & Gas:
    Leading companies and operators in China have a number of new projects coming up which is fuelling strong demand for oil and gas professionals across the board. This will lead to an increase in salaries, particularly for candidates who can demonstrate capacity and logical thinking, good communication skills in Mandarin and English and leadership skills.
  • Property:
    As more retailers break into the local market, candidates with a strong foundation in the retail sector or within mixed use developments are sought by agency, developer and investor organisations. Organisations want local candidates to counter balance the rise of salaries outside normal incremental or inflationary raises.
  • Sales & Marketing:
    As retailers shift their focus to customer service, store-based employees are in high demand. Candidates with overseas retail experience who can meet high performance targets and teach local employees the importance of customer service are also sought. Strong sales performers are being targeted by competitors, which will place pressure on salaries. Outside of retail, roles are available in sales, marketing, digital marketing and digital media.

Access the 2012 Hays Salary Guide at, by contacting your local Hays office or by downloading The Hays Salary Guide 2012 iPhone app from iTunes.

Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.

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About Hays
Hays is the leading global specialist recruiting group. It is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide. It operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments.

As at 30 June 2011, Hays employed 7,620 staff operating from 255 offices in 31 countries across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2011, Hays reported net fees of £672 million and operating profit of £114 million and placed around 60,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 190,000 people into temporary assignments. 31% of Group net fees were generated in Asia Pacific.

Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the United Kingdom and the USA.

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