The digital transformation of China’s Yangtze River Delta

The rapid growth of China’s digital economy across industries is driving socioeconomic mobility and playing a critical role in regional economic development. To map the impact of digital transformation on China’s regional economies, we teamed up with Tsinghua University and the Shanghai Institute of Science and Technology Policy to launch the Digital Economy and Talent Development Report for China’s Yangtze River Delta Region. The report examines the dynamics and rise of digital skills across the region, which includes the major cities of Shanghai and Hangzhou. Here’s what we found:

In the Yangtze River Delta, the industries with the most representation on LinkedIn are information and communication technologies (ICT), manufacturing, corporate services, consumer goods, and finance. These five industries also have the highest proportions of people in technical roles -- such as android developer, software engineer, and data scientist. This distribution of tech talent is consistent with the current development focus of the Yangtze River Delta region, and aligns with local government priorities and human capital investments.

Shanghai remains attractive to international talent; Jinhua and Changzhou are on the rise as new alternatives. Shanghai exhibits the largest inflow and outflow of talent from overseas, including Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. Other cities in the region, including Jinhua (in Zhejiang province) and Changzhou (in Jiangsu province) are growing quickly as destinations for international talent.

Five cities (Beijing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Wuhan, and Chengdu) are the top sources for domestic talent migration both into and out of the region. In terms of domestic talent migration, the main inflow source and outflow destinations of top talent and digital talent in the Yangtze River Delta region are the same five cities: Beijing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Wuhan, and Chengdu.

Hangzhou is the most attractive city for domestic digital talent. The Yangtze River Delta region is a magnet for domestic digital talent -- workers with digital skills are coming to the region at 1.35 times the rates they are leaving it. The ratio of inflow and outflow at 1.35. Hangzhou tops the list of most attractive cities, with a talent inflow and outflow ratio of 1.74, followed by Shanghai and Suzhou. Other cities are suffering a net outflow of digital talent.

Shanghai and Jinhua are most attractive to top talent in the Yangtze River Delta region. Based on the net number of workers entering each city, Shanghai is the most attractive city for top talent, followed by Jinhua.

Shanghai plays an important role in developing talent to support other regions. Shanghai attracts more junior-level talent and exports more senior-level talent compared to other regions in China. This indicates that the city plays an important role in training and developing talent, and helps create a pipeline of digital talent for other regions.

The findings of this report shed light on the characteristics of talent in the Yangtze River Delta region and its core cities. We hope these results will enable the region to improve its efforts to deploy and develop talent across provinces and industries, helping to drive the coordinated development of a regional digital economy. Moreover, by leveraging the key insights of the report, policymakers, educational institutions, businesses and individuals will gain a better understanding of the flows of talent migration in the region, enabling them to create new training and talent development pathways that align with the changing demand for digital skills.

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