Experts Discuss Skills Gap in China

L to R: Edward Tse, Chauncy Lennon, Li Qiang, Bridget Beattie, Wang Huiyao.

Leaders from government, business, and academia gathered on May 12 in Beijing at the Asia Society Hong Kong Center event “Workforce Readiness in China: Narrowing the Skills Gap in an Evolving Economy” to discuss the employment challenges faced in China and suggest solutions for closing the skills gap that is emerging as China transitions from a manufacturing-led economic model to slower consumption-driven economic growth.

Building the right skills in the workforce is essential to China’s sustained economic growth in the medium to the long term, speakers concluded at the symposium, the third installment of the One Step Ahead Series, sponsored by J.P. Morgan. The half day event was organized by the Asia Society Hong Kong Center in partnership with Center for China & Globalization (CCG).

“For a country like China, with a population of more than 1.3 billion and a labor force of over 800 million, the issues of employment and human resources development are ones of important strategic significance,” explained keynote speaker Wang Xiaochu, Vice Chairman, Foreign Affairs Committee, National People’s Congress & Former Vice Minister of Human Resources and Social Security.

“We need people with technical skills, expertise and professional education backgrounds, but first we need to improve peoples’ overall abilities, so that they are equipped with not only knowledge and skills, but the ability to adapt to new technologies,” Fan Gang, Director of the National Economic Research Institute & Chairman of the China Reform Foundation told the audience of some 250 business leaders.

The “Workforce Readiness in China” symposium’s aim is to drive conversations and initiatives in China to help increase workforce quality and create job opportunities in order to boost economic growth.

“China is moving up the value chain, and its educational institutions need to prepare students better for the actual skills needed as they enter the workforce. Moreover, companies themselves need to factor in ways to retain the staff they attract, train, and develop. Finding a solution requires a concerted approach from educators, business, and the government to ensure China’s continued economic success. The Asia Society Hong Kong Center is pleased to collaborate with J.P. Morgan to convene experts from these three sectors today to address this important issue,” Ronnie C. Chan, Chairman of Asia Society Hong Kong Center, and Co-Chair Asia Society, said.

“Closing the skills gap will benefit everyone. We are excited by the progress we have made in US and Europe, and look forward to expanding and deepening our work to Asia and China in the years to come,” Chauncy Lennon, Managing Director, Global Head of Workforce Readiness, J.P. Morgan said.

Wang Huiyao, President of the Center for China & Globalization (CCG), one of the leading think tanks and Counselor for the State Council Counselors Office, added that to factor in companies’ needs in national educational reform would also be key in bridging the skills gap issue in China.

Li Qiang, Dean, School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Tsinghua University, Bridget Beattie, Group E.V.P, Asia Pacific Middle East, Right Management, and other business leaders also contributed to the symposium.

Video: Watch excerpts from the program (5min., 35 sec.)

Video: Watch the complete program (3 hrs., 25min., 15sec.)



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