A look at cross-regional migration trends in China

As the Chinese economy becomes increasingly open through policies such as “the Belt and Road initiative,” China is transforming from a talent exporter to a talent gravitational field in the global market. LinkedIn’s Economic Graph, which includes +39 million Chinese members, make it possible to track these dynamics of global talent migration across countries and companies.

Allen Blue, LinkedIn Co-founder and VP Product Management, shared our latest cross-regional talent migration insights at the recent 16th Conference on International Exchange of Professionals (CIEP) in Shenzhen, China. Fifteen Chinese mainland cities—including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen—saw significant international talent migration between January 2017 and February 2018. We dove deeper in these trends to better understand cross-regional talent migration patterns across industries, titles and skills.

Some of our cross-regional talent migration findings are intuitive:

  • The most attractive cities are the most economically developed. Despite the impact of factors such as geography and talent attraction policies (like migration from Hong Kong to nearby Guangzhou and Shenzhen, or South Koreans moving to nearby Qingdao), the majority of cross-regional talent migration is by professionals moving from the United States and the United Kingdom to Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. Emerging tier-one Chinese cities closely follow in terms of talent attraction from other regions.
  • By industry, cross-regional talent migration tends to align with regional economic strengths. In Hangzhou, for example, software & IT services is the industry attracting the most cross-regional professionals, while professionals moving to Qingdao and Dongguan tend to relocate to work in manufacturing. Across the Chinese mainland as a whole, the top industry for cross-regional professionals is software & IT services, followed by the finance industry.
  • Management is the most sought-after skill for cross-regional professionals in the Chinese mainland. LinkedIn data shows that professionals moving to these 15 cities are generally equipped with management and leadership skills. This indicates that a large proportion of international hiring in the Chinese mainland is for professionals in leadership roles.

Other trends are surprising:

  • Asia Pacific shows remarkable talent mobility. Just as Asia Pacific economies have become more integrated, Singapore, Australia and Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan are increasingly key sources of talent inflows to the Chinese mainland.
  • Professionals with specialized skills account for a growing proportion of talent inflows. Although management skills are the #1 skill held by cross-functional professionals, other more specialized skills, such as social media, customer service and supply chain management, have risen in frequency.
  • Cross-regional professionals increasingly join sectors beyond just management. Compared with the past trend of cross-regional professionals in China working exclusively in management or translation services, today we are seeing professionals in the Chinese mainland migrate for jobs in talent-hungry sectors such as software engineering.

Today, LinkedIn provides Chinese enterprises and governments with services to help them connect with top talent around the world. Across the global economy, talent creates value - and we are committed to helping employers, governments, and professionals understand the dynamics of their local, regional, or global labor markets, in order to create more economic opportunity for all.

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