Foreign talent wary of China's air pollution

BEIJING • China's problems with air pollution are undermining government efforts to make the country more attractive to overseas talent, according to recruitment professionals.

A survey by Spring Professional, a subsidiary of human resources company Adecco Group, found that the interest among top foreign talent in working in China has risen nearly 150 per cent over the past five years.

Yet fears over the environment and climate have also increased.

Out of 2,000 foreign employees, who had each lived in China for at least five years and who Spring Professional polled last year, 55 per cent said they had concerns about air quality, up from 23 per cent in 2012.

"During interview processes, foreign applicants frequently check the air quality index," said Ms Ma Erman, head of overseas recruitment for language training company EF English in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province.

In September and October last year, Shijiazhuang was ranked as the city with the worst air quality among 74 cities monitored by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

"Many will turn down an offer after thinking carefully about their health," Ms Ma added.

Mr Hu Xin, a senior consultant at Spring Professional, said China has become more competitive in the talent war compared with five years ago. "China has an advantage over European countries, whose economy, social order and political situations are deteriorating," he added.

But many expatriates are having second thoughts because of air pollution.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2017, with the headline 'Foreign talent wary of China's air pollution'. Print Edition | Subscribe