2019.1.9
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Recruitment & HR Development

Reasons Why China is Securing Young Talented Personnel with Internships

(Jirsak/Shutterstock.com)
(Jirsak/Shutterstock.com)
In China's job market, securing personnel through internships has become common practice, just like in America. Similar to Japan, China started the practice of internships late, so why is it that internships are now being regarded so important? We will introduce the present situation of China's internships, the environment surrounding college students, and the circumstances of job-hunting.

The number of new graduates is increasing exponentially, making job-hunting is a buyer's market

Among colleges in China, rather than privately-managed colleges that are equivalent to Japan's private colleges, there are more state-managed colleges that are equivalent to national and public ones. Even if the privately-managed academies are included, there are thrice as many state-managed colleges in China as compared to Japan. China's examination, the "Gaokao", which corresponds to Japan's Center examination, means that intake numbers for colleges are fixed.

As a result, one would expect the number of new graduates to have stabilized, but this is not the case. In order to predict human resource development in the upcoming years, it is important to consider the recent significant economic development, and that a policy to expand the capacity of colleges is being adopted. So new graduates, who numbered about 1 million people in 2001, have now swelled to 8 million people in 2018.

As the number of graduates increases rapidly, the job market cannot keep up.  It is so severe a situation for college students that there has been a rise in the unemployment rate. On the other hand, for businesses, it has become a buyer's market where they can carefully select the best personnel.

Why are internships being regarded as important in China?

As a society, the Chinese value educational background, even more than the Japanese. In fact, educational background and job-hunting are so directly connected that it can be said that the college one attends will command one's life.

For example, in the recruitment of graduates, foreign-owned/domestic enterprises will screen candidates exclusively from a shortlist of 211 high-priority colleges. There are 100 colleges nationwide chosen for a college education improvement project to improve education levels.

Internships are then being used in order to further identify the best personnel from this shortlist of students who have superior educational backgrounds.

In China, it is uncommon for organizations to nurture new graduates from the start, unlike in Japan. People do not care much if one is a new graduate or a recent graduate. What is important, is whether a person has work experience or not, or whether the new fresh graduate is ready to hit the ground running.

By offering practical work experience, or internships that lead to practical work experience and giving unofficial offers to students who exhibit excellent performance, organizations are acquiring high-ability students.

Furthermore, internships protect employers against mismatches, because of the deepening of the students' understanding towards the company. Additionally the employer can expect publicity from word-of-mouth through the students. For businesses, there are huge rewards in acquiring young personnel through internships.

What students hope for in an internship is a career

In China, because people consider wages the most important factor in doing work, they select companies that eventually provide high salaries, or they switch jobs to organizations that present positions or salaries that are a step up from their current role. As a result, job applicants regard high wages, and whether they will be able to build a career or not, as important factors when deciding who to work for.

Because organizations regard career and ability as important at the time of appointment, students without employment experience could be said to be at a disadvantage. The students are choosing internships with the companies with whom they can gain the careers that they desire.

As a result, businesses are devising internships containing practical work experience that will not only test the best students, but also make them less likely to leave and work for a competitor.  In this way, internships have merit for the business as well as the student.

There are also cases of Japanese students participating in Chinese internships

The number of students from Japan participating in internships in China is increasing year by year, and services for support have also been enriched. If Japanese students, having gained an understanding of China's work culture during their internship, desire further employment overseas, there is the possibility that they will sooner or later become a bridge to tie head offices in Japan to local corporations in China.

The enrichment of internship contents to secure superior personnel

With the buyer's market as the background, in order to acquire even more excellent personnel, China's major domestic/foreign-owned enterprises are actively putting internships into practice. If Japanese enterprises want to acquire excellent young personnel in China, they should similarly adopt internships actively.

In order to do that, businesses must thoroughly understand the environment surrounding Chinese college students, as well as the motivation of the students. There is a need to carefully consider the content so that they become effective internships for organizations as well as for students.
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