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2012 June 10 Sunday
Foreign Workers Not Very Welcome In China

Western countries are anomalies in so many ways, both good and bad. A Bloomberg Businessweek article lays out the poor and worsening outlook for foreign workers in China.

As in any gold rush, few strike gold. “There’s this perception that China is a land of opportunity where any foreigner can succeed, which is not really true,” says Michael Thorneman, partner and head of China operations for Bain & Co., which advises numerous multinationals on hiring decisions. “They don’t necessarily want us here,” says Mathew Alderson, a Beijing-based lawyer for international law firm Harris & Moure. “America is a nation built on migrants, but China can’t say the same.”

If you are a skilled and motivated worker in a Western country with poor job prospects where to go? The answer is not obvious. Silicon Valley comes to mind. Where else?

What demand still exists is confined to higher levels of management.

Multinationals still need foreigners, Thorneman says, but the available jobs are mostly mid- to senior-level. Even the top ones are becoming more local, with only 6 percent of multinational executive positions in Asia going to candidates from outside Asia, according to the Wall Street Journal.

With automation destroying jobs faster than new jobs are being created I wonder about the best long term strategy for maximizing one's value on the labor market. Which skills will become useless next? In 5 years? In 10 years?

I foresee a shortening list of safe jobs. Even higher education has become less of a safe place to work. More positions go to low paid adjuncts who work on short term contracts. Online learning is going to cut into the demand for adjuncts and tenure track positions. In the 10 year time scale I expect professorships at medium and lower ranked colleges to head for the chopping block as people who can't afford or get accepted to top ranked schools increasingly gravitate toward online learning in order to save money and increase convenience. Even the big brand name schools will feel the pressure eventually. They'll become even more dependent on research grants.

By Randall Parker    2012 June 10 05:57 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
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