China – No acute skills gap, but a lack of soft skills report says

As China moves towards a services- and knowledge-driven economy, one of the main constraints will lie in the ability of its workforce to gain the requisite skills and knowledge to make the transition to a high-income country.

  • There is little evidence to suggest that China suffers from an acute skills gap across wide occupational areas. A surge in tertiary education graduates over the past decade has provided employers with a large pool of workers to recruit from.
  • All the companies interviewed said that a lack of soft skills posed a much greater challenge than the absence of hard skills. Notable soft skills mentioned as posing the greatest business and organisational challenges in China include leadership, communication and self-motivation.
  • The soft skills gap is still seen as being most prominent in middle management roles, with wages for these positions continuing to see rapid increases. However, there is a broader and rising demand for soft skills training at all levels, with companies generally dissatis ed with current training options available.


  • In manufacturing/engineering sectors, finding the requisite hard skills in the open labour market is a challenge. However, these skills tend to be specific to the technologies and processes deployed by individual employers. New recruits at these firms typically tend to undergo extensive in-house training, sometimes in co-operation with third-party training providers. In comparison, interviewees in high value-added services sectors, such as banking and nance, indicated a greater demand for training, which is likely due to the faster pace of development in this sector of China’s economy.
  • As China’s domestic firms become increasingly intertwined with the global economy, they are under pressure to bring business practices closer to international standards. Training in project management processes will be a notable area of growth in the coming years, as will training on overseas business regulation and cross-cultural management.
  • There is scope for international education and training providers to participate in China’s rapidly growing market for skills training and there remains a high degree of interest in learning from foreign institutions. The main area of unmet demand, according to interviewees,
    is currently the soft side of personal development, but skills associated with sectors that remain underdeveloped in China are also likely to be areas where international education providers can gain more traction in preparation for growth in the near future.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Soft skills, hard challenges: understanding the nature of China’s skills gap



  1. Pingback: Soft Skills – 4 Recommendations for coaching | Job Market Monitor - February 12, 2020

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