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Overseas returnees see slight drop in '23

By CHENG SI | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-03-02 07:37

Job seekers check out a booth at a job fair held in Shenzhen, on April 15, 2023. [Photo/VCG]

The number of overseas returnees seeking employment in the Chinese mainland witnessed a slight decline in 2023, due to the fading superiority of talent with an overseas education background in the increasingly competitive domestic job market.

Recruitment portal Zhaopin recently released a report saying that the number of overseas returnees seeking jobs in the Chinese mainland saw a slight drop of 5 percent year-on-year in 2023.

The number of returnees varies among different countries. Last year, about 40 percent of the returnees came back from the United Kingdom, 16 percent from Australia and 10 percent from the United States, the report said.

Over half of surveyed overseas students returned for work last year because of the mainland's more convenient living environment, and 44 percent were attracted by the mainland's better economy.

"I'd wavered before I decided to return to the mainland last year. My family spent roughly 2 million yuan ($278,000) for my four-year undergraduate studies in the UK and roughly 1 million yuan for my postgraduate studies. I couldn't find a good job there, so I came back," said Xie Mingyue, a 26-year-old from Dongguan, Guangdong province, who now works as an accountant in Shanghai.

He said that larger cities such as Beijing and Shanghai are always the top choices for returnees because of their stronger economies and greater opportunities.

"But that also brings aggressive competition. My current job is not that highly paid, roughly 12,000 yuan pretax."

Some domestic companies, especially those in technology-driven industries such as new energy and modern manufacturing, remain thirsty for talent with knowledge of state-of-the-art technologies and overseas experience, and are offering higher salaries to attract returnees.

According to Zhaopin's report, employers in sectors such as new energy increased the number of job openings for which they prefer to hire overseas returnees by 71.7 percent year-on-year in 2023.

"The resumption of international travel and communication in the post-pandemic era offers more job opportunities to overseas students, while the improving education situation in China and more intensive competition in the job market may lead them to put off their plans to return," said Li Qiang, vice-president of Zhaopin.

He said that though the number of returnees dropped slightly last year, the mainland remains attractive to overseas students because of the nation's fast-growing digital economy, more friendly employment policies and stable economic performance in recent years.

"In addition to some traditional jobs, more overseas returnees are willing to take flexible jobs in short-video creation, online education and livestreaming. For example, 46.5 percent of our surveyed returnees who have taken flexible jobs last year are working as short-video creators," he said.

He added that although overseas returnees have greater advantages in terms of cross-cultural communication and languages, they may have unrealistic expectations with regard to salaries.

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