The supply of tech talent has been altered worldwide during the pandemic resurgence and the protracted Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Global enterprises are engaging in a new round of competition to win over talent in the digital technology field.
- The United States and some western European countries have been mired in this talent shortage for decades, relying on and enticing international workers to underpin their technology development. In the past 20 years, the US has filled the gap by mainly recruiting international students and building enterprises in target countries. The latter approach has become increasingly common as a part of the globalization process.
- India has developed abundant IT talent through their elite schools and giant IT companies. There has been a huge influx of top-ranked Indian technology graduates into the United States. In the past 10 years, the west has also begun outsourcing IT operations to Poland, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and other countries in Eastern Europe. Ukraine inherited the Soviet-built technology foundation and has become an internationally renowned hunting ground for technology talent.
- China has the largest pool of technological talent. However, the Chinese government and people are not interested in being a talent supplier to the West. China also needs global tech talent, especially Chinese IT giants that need more tech workers to better compete with their European and US counterparts. These Chinese companies have set up R&D centers in India, Russia, the US, Japan, France, and many other countries, recruiting high caliber workers from around the world.
- Inevitably, geopolitical risks will alter the talent supply globally. Confronted with fierce competition in the technology industry, instead of solely relying on domestic talent resources, Chinese companies need to increase their efforts to seek talent from other countries. Apart from those in Eastern Europe, China should look to India’s elite technology talent and, despite the border friction, provide excellent employment opportunities both in India and in China.
- In the future, Chinese companies should continuously look to the Global South in creating their strategic development plans. With solid economic strength and promising development prospects, China is able to acquire more tech talent and lead a new round of digital industry development.
With developed transportation and abundant natural resources, the Northeast region was, historically, the industrial heart of new China. In the first five-year plan of socialist construction, many heavy industry projects were implemented in the Northeast, shaping the foundation of the state-owned economy. From 1949 to 1979, the region ranked among the top Chinese regions for urbanization, education, and per capita income. However, since the market-oriented reform period, most of the management and technical talent from the state-owned enterprises in the Northeast have migrated to the Yangtze River Delta and the coastal region, and many of the top-ranking graduates from Northeast universities have gone to the first-tier cities like Beijing, Shanghai, or Guangzhou. Most of the state-owned factories lost their market share to products that were imported or produced by joint ventures. Also, the factories in the Northeast did not have the technological knowledge needed for manufacturing innovation, which, in turn, caused a vicious circle of capital and talent fleeing from the area, leading to the deterioration of the social ecology and serious corruption. On numerous occasions in the past three decades, the Chinese central government has made a plan to "revitalize the Northeast". In 2002, Pan Wei reflected on the problems of the area and proposed the idea of building a "special social zone", which essentially means that the market mechanism of profit maximization should not dominate the Northeast, but that the social planning mechanism should systematically rearrange the various resources in this region. In the latest discussion on the revitalization of Northeast China, this socialist idea has again been revisited.
- Capital is not an inevitable intermediary for the combination of labor and the means of production. In China’s first 30 years, when capital was in short supply, it built up its national industrial base, relying on state planning and the socialist spirit of the "glory of labor, and the shame of not working". However, a market economy is profit-driven, and the industrial base of Northeast China, due, in part, to the lack of technology and management talent could no longer compete and was abandoned.
- Northeast China should follow the path of the "social-interests-led economy": "planning" plus "spirit", supplemented by the "market". The starting point for this idea should be the following: (1) the Northeast is of vital geostrategic importance; (2) China's further development is in great need of independent heavy industry and large-scale agriculture; (3) the basic conditions exist for reviving the Northeast: a developed infrastructure and a trained labor force; (4) the spirit of socialism has deep roots among the people; and (5) China's market economy is already quite developed and can coexist with a modified planned economy.
- The basic idea of establishing the "special social zone" – as opposed to a "special zone" for profits – is to put the interests of society above the interests of capital, to put people first, and to quickly restore production. The government should draw up a ten-year economic recovery plan. It should give bankrupt or near-bankrupt enterprises to workers and change the ownership from state-owned to collectively owned. A unified department for material deployment should be established to manage the supply chain according to the Northeast regional plan. Simultaneously, the government should mobilize national support for the recovery of the Northeast industrial and agricultural economies through market incentives and provide assistance through taxation and finance.
- The government must also hold corrupt officials responsible. Party officials should educate the workers about the objective problem, explaining how the old Northeast enterprises are not market competitive. The role of Party members, Party branches, and model workers should be mobilized to promote the socialist spirit of the “glory of labor” and to motivate workers to revitalize the Northeast region.
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