Does Education = Qualification?

Related entries: Business Issues, General, Strategy

It is a challenge to keep up with news coming out of China, and all my good intentions for blogging my way through several conferences that we have recently supported and / or sponsored quickly got engulfed by other pressing work. Anyway, I will be delving into my dusty conference notes over the next week or two in order to extract some interesting facts and opinions.

First off, are these figures on education which were provided by Joe McGeehan, Director of the Centre for Communications Research at Bristol University (speaking at the Chatham House China Communications conference. He reported that in 2005 in China there were (the referenced source was China Education and Research Network):

    • Universities: 701
    • Polytechnics: 1,091
    • Vocational Institutes: 481

Populating these institutions were:

    • Students: 23 million in higher education
    • Undergraduates: 15,617,800
    • Postgraduates: 978,000

So, there are a lot of students with a lot of qualifications…but the question remains: how many of them are qualified, in practical terms, to achieve things in business? A common theme in conversations recently has been the need for qualified people – not just people with qualifications (as an MBA does not necessarily a great manager make). The “war for talent” (and the fight for staff retention) is one that businesses will have to get used to fighting in China.

At the ACI “Seize the China Challenge” conference Jeremy Butler, head of KPMG’s China Desk in the UK, noted that they hired 1,000 people in China out of 15,000 (presumably paper-qualified) applicants – and they are not alone, as I noted here. It seems that many people simply do not make the grade when it comes to doing the business, especially in the context of a foreign firm.

From a different angle, talking about risk at ACI’s China energy conference, Philip Veale of Aon, also reflected on “key man” risk issues. When you finally do get the right person in place, how far can you rely on them alone, and what is the backup plan should he / she be poached or otherwise lost? A good question that many people many struggle to answer.

As Andrew Hupert has noted at Diligence China HR is a strategic not a tactical issue. As with other strategic issues, the plan should be revisited and revised from time to time…and implemented daily.

One Response to “Does Education = Qualification?”

  1. From China With Love » The Education Market in China Says:

    […] l training. Just how many students are we talking about?  Well according to this second article, there are over 23 million students graduating from higher education eac […]

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