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Free flow of China’s talent market brings many benefits, says Hays

Updated: 14 Apr 2016

Free Flow

The government’s recent policy of cancelling occupational qualifications will have a positive impact on China’s future job market and will encourage innovation in our skilled talent pool, says recruiting expert Hays.

Hays says the cancellation of 62 job qualifications, announced at the executive meeting of the state council on July 15 and following the cancellation of 149 job qualifications last year, implies that employers could now hire talent based on merit, background and overall qualification. It will have a positive impact on China’s future job market and will encourage innovation in our skilled talent pool.

A positive impact

“The era of securing a high income by attaining an occupation qualification certificate has gone,” says Simon Lance, Managing Director of Hays in China. “This will have a positive impact on the labour market because it reduces constraints on talent movement and encourages a more active, fair and competitive job market.

A free-flowing talent market will help promote economic growth, public entrepreneurship and innovation. It is important in decentralization and breaking monopoly sector interests, and it will stimulate the vitality of China’s market economy to enable us to better adapt to the ‘new normal’.”

Simon says that in the past China’s labour market inflexibility was a restriction that added pressure to the skills shortage.

 “In our 2014 Hays Global Skills Index, China received a very high score of 8.0 for labour market inflexibility. Of the 31 countries in the Index, this score was second only to Brazil (on 9.3). The reason behind this includes that the previous policy obligation of obtaining a professional qualification certification was a barrier limiting the mobility of skilled talent. Now however the employment market will become more flexible and people will be able to use their skills to contribute to the job market as well as move and flow between jobs.”

The recruiter says this will add further confidence to skilled professionals, who are already sure they can change jobs to advance their career, and who are willing to back themselves financially in their career success.

 A recent Hays poll of 480 people in mainland China found that 63% are willing to sacrifice some of their base pay for the opportunity to potentially earn more in a performance-based bonus.  This shows people are confident that the local market gives them the opportunities they need to excel. Such a positive market encourages people to take risks, trust in their own competency, and take advantage of their expertise. That’s a very positive staffing environment, which this new policy will further enhance.”

Skills become the focus

In response to this policy change, Hays says that employers will need to recruit based on skills and experience alone. “Employers will need to focus much more on the skills and experience of candidates when they recruit,” he said. “Rather than looking for a candidate with the necessary certificate, employers will need to identify the exact skills and experience their ideal candidate must possess, then recruit against this criteria.

 “The use of behavioural interview questions could also rise as employers look for ways to determine if a candidate has the skills and qualities they require.

 “Candidate attraction will need to become a greater focus too if employers are to secure top talent in a competitive and fast moving candidate pool,” he said. 


The China National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) system was initially announced in the year 1994 to boost the number of professionals with qualified skills to match specific vocational requirements. Ever since, more than 2,500 qualifications were carried out by both the central and local governments.

But the number of qualification and authorization organizations grew, and loopholes began to appear, including the training quality and the qualification process management and supervision. As a result, the negative impact of hindering the free flow of talent now outweighs the initial purpose of building up talents with required skills.

In China Hays operates from four local offices: Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou and Guangzhou.

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.

Hays Specialist Recruitment  (Shanghai) Co., Limited ("Hays China") operates across the public and private sector, dealing in permanent positions. Hays China’s eighteen specialisms span Accountancy & Finance, Banking, Architecture, Construction, Education, Engineering, Executive, Finance Technology, Human Resources, Hays Resource Management, Information Technology, Insurance, Life Sciences, Manufacturing & Operations, Oil & Gas, Property and Sales & Marketing.

Hays China operates four local offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou and Guangzhou. It is the local representative office for Hays plc, which is a global company. As at 31 December 2014 Hays employed 8,748 staff operating from 244 offices in 33 countries across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2014, Hays placed around 57,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 212,000 people into temporary assignments. 24% of Group net fees were generated in Asia Pacific.

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

About the Hays Global Skills Index

The Hays Global Skills Index assesses the efficiency of the skilled labour market in 31 countries, or its ability to supply skilled labour.  It is a composite figure based on seven indicators, each with their own score. Three indicators explore the supply of talent, namely education flexibility, labour market participation and labour market flexibility. One looks at talent mismatch. The final three are wage pressure indicators, looking at overall wage pressure, wage pressure in high-skill industries and wage pressure in high-skill occupations.

A score of 5.0 indicates a balanced picture for labour markets, a score close to 0 indicates less intense competition for vacancies, and a score close to 10 shows severe difficulty in finding skills. 

The Hays Global Skills Index can be viewed at  For more information on China’s findings, please see our press release China’s overall wage pressure a threat to its global competitiveness, finds a global index of 31 countries