Cloud, programming top skills demand in China

The majority of IT job demands in China are focused on basic skills such as programming, but cloud and mobility will continue to drive IT employment for 2013.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

Basic IT skills such as programming are highly sought after in China, but professionals with high-end skills are preferred in specific IT segments.

A spokesperson from Chinese job search site CJOL.com said that basic IT skills such as programming lead the demand in China. Citing statistics from its job board, she said companies looking for employees with basic IT skills account for some 70 percent of total advertisements.

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China's IT industry will continue to see extreme polarization in IT talent.

Raymond Wong, general manager for IT and telecommunications (IT&T) at Hudson China, had a different view. He said cloud computing and mobile skills will continue to drive demand in the IT jobs market, while sectors such as big data and social network also have shown strong growth.

The CJOL spokesperson noted that cloud adoption has matured in China, so demand for IT professionals in this area will focus on high-end skills rather than the mid- to low-end talent pool.

"Currently, many large enterprises in China are researching cloud technologies or cloud-based services. Cloud computing has successfully moved beyond the internal IT system to become a public service, and has become a hot technology instead of an emerging technology.

"Experienced IT professionals are now beginning to move to cloud technology development," said the spokesperson. "We predict that demand for cloud computing professionals will grow in 2013."

She noted that business intelligence and big data are still new industries in China and will mature, though not reaching mainstream yet, in 2013.

IT job market slows in 2013

According to Wong, hiring expectations across all industries in China have dipped. "According to statistics in the Hudson Report, hiring expectation has fallen from 85 percent of employers willing to increase their headcounts in the first quarter of 2012 to 59.3 percent in this year's first quarter," he said.

Demand for IT&T professional is impacted as companies look to save budgets by cutting IT procurement. As a result, tech vendors will attempt to control cost due to unsatisfactory revenues, Wong said.

CJOL, however, is more optimistic for hiring activities in China this year. "Even though job demands after the Internet explosion have slowed, industries such as telecommunications, e-commerce, and enterprise applications have seen small increase in hiring," she said.

She noted the IT hardware segment will likely see another stage of development, which will lead to increases in average salary and demand for IT professionals in this market.

"In 2013, the IT industry will continue to see extreme polarization in IT talent," she added. "High-end IT professionals will [strive to] become more high end as demand [surpasses] supply, and their salary requirements increase. [The supply of] those with low-end skills will increase and [these professionals] will find it more difficult to find satisfactory jobs."

Mixed preference for local companies

In a previous ZDNet Asia report, a recruiter said Chinese top-level executives working for multinational companies (MNCs) are not given sufficient management power. This had led to some executives preferring to leave their MNC jobs to lead local startups where their skills would be appreciated.

CJOL's spokesperson said the high-level executives that the recruitment company spoke to expressed a preference to work in local companies. "The main reason for their limited management power in MNCs is the difference in cultural background and worldview between the Chinese employees and the foreign companies," she explained, but noted that this scenario is not commonplace.

High-level executives prefer staying in local startups because they put more importance on salary and career development, she added.

"A lot of local companies offer competitive salary and development platform when compared with MNCs, which decreases the attractiveness of [working for a] foreign company," the CJOL spokesperson said.

Hudson's Wong, though, holds a different view. He said the trend of employees preferring local companies is not common, although it surfaced during the IPO boom in China in 2010. He said the top three aspects of an employer that currently attract IT&T professionals in China are: salary, cutting-edge technology, and world-class brand.

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