Bringing Economic Graph insights to China’s policymakers

LinkedIn’s Economic Graph is a digital representation of the global economy based on data generated from 530 million members, 50,000 skills, 18 million employers, 11 million open jobs, and 29,000 educational institutions. Through mapping every member, company, job, and school, LinkedIn data can uncover trends like talent migration, hiring rates, and in-demand skills by region. By partnering with governments and non-governmental organizations around the world to share these insights, LinkedIn works to connect people to economic opportunities.

With more than 36 million members in China, we have unique insight into some of the dynamics of China’s digital talent landscape. That’s why we teamed up with Tsinghua University to launch our first-ever Economic Graph report on the digital talent landscape in China: The China Digital Economy Talent Report.

One of the major issues facing China today is the uneven distribution of economic growth. The digital economy is overwhelmingly driving China’s economic expansion: it grew 18.9% in 2016, compared to the overall economy’s 6.7% growth in 2016. The Chinese government has committed to investing in the continued growth of the digital economy through policy initiatives including the Belt and Road Initiative and Made in China 2025. In emerging economies like China, investing in people’s digital skills is particularly important for driving the digital transformation of traditionally “offline” industries, such as manufacturing. Investing in people’s digital skills is a major policy lever to uplevel the national economy.

In the China Digital Economy Talent Report, we identify the geographic distribution of digital talent in China, as represented by professionals with specific job titles that reflect “digital” functions. The six job function categories we examine are: digital strategy management, in-depth analytics, product R&D, advanced manufacturing, digital operations, and digital marketing.

These digital functions are found not just at companies in the tech industry, but increasingly in the manufacturing, finance, and consumer goods industries, too. And through this prism of “digital functions,” we can assess the supply and demand of specific digital skills held by these professionals across industries and cities.

Here’s what we found:

  • China is in the midst of a digital transformation. The cities with the largest pools of digital talent are Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Hangzhou.  The cities of Chengdu, Suzhou, Nanjing, Wuhan, and Xi’an are close behind.

  • Technical fields of study are producing the most professionals in digital functions today. The top fields of study for professionals in digital functions are computer science, software engineering, and electrical and electronic engineering. Business administration is the top non-technical field.

  • For digital professionals in China, the two most in-demand skills are project management and Java. But skills gaps are fundamentally local: while these are the top in-demand skills overall, the exact skills demanded by employers can vary greatly between cities.

China is a vast country, and the landscape for opportunities for digitally-focused roles varies geographically. The dominant industries in each city shape the types of roles available, and skills in demand from employers.

These are the in-demand digital skills in some of China’s biggest markets:

  • Beijing, a mature market for digital professionals, is moving increasingly into big data analytics. The top in-demand skills in Beijing are Java, Linux, project management, Python, C++, management, software development, C, Javascript, and SQL.

  • Shanghai, the city with the largest concentration of digital professionals, continues to gain digital talent -- fast. The top in-demand skills in project management, Java, management, Linux, Python, C++, Javascript, SQL, software development, and C.

  • Guangzhou’s digital talent pool leans toward web design, with a special emphasis on soft skills. The top in-demand skills in Guangzhou are project management, management, Java, customer service, javascript, leadership, SQL, Linux, Python, and Adobe Photoshop.

  • Shenzhen’s demand for digital professionals is expanding rapidly in both ICT and traditional industries. The top in-demand skills in Shenzhen are project management, management, Java, Linux, Python, C++, Javascript, C, leadership, and customer service.

  • Suzhou, with a strong manufacturing bent, sees high demand for manufacturing and data center-related skills. The top in-demand skills in Suzhou are project management, management, product development, continuous improvement, Six Sigma, Java, lean manufacturing, C++, failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA), software development, and SQL.

We hope these insights will help municipal governments understand the dynamics of their local labor markets, so that they can ultimately create policies that will help people learn the skills they need to obtain high-growth jobs in their communities. These insights can also help businesses identify new talent pools and find the people with the skills they need to build and develop their own digital capabilities. Finally, we hope these insights provide value to job seekers and employees, to guide them toward learning in-demand skills if they’re interested in doing so.

If you’re interested in learning more about the digital talent landscape in China today, check out the full China Digital Economy Talent Report here for more insights.*


*The report is only available in Chinese at this time.

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