In a Land Full of People, Not Enough People

Snow Desk in the Hutong

One thing we’re hearing more and more of in the Hutong is how China is still not turning out enough people with the right kinds of skills to support high-tech industries. Most recent example of this was in today’s Wall Street Journal, in a big page one article about how Baguio, in northern Luzon in the Philippines, is somehow a better place to assemble and test semiconductors than China.

Of course, Intel would probably beg to differ, given that they are well along the way in building their second assemble and test facility in China.

I’d have to agree that the toughest damned thing to find in China today is good local managerial talent. Oh, sure, you can find folks from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and a host of returnees. But for a whole lot of reasons these guys aren’t the best solution to the management problem.

This issue also plagues China on the outsourcing and offshoring front. The country is finding it increasingly difficult to compete with other Asian nations when the need is for quality – not quantity – human resources. And if China is going to capitalize on its huge population, the nation needs to be able to field a growing skilled workforce, rather than try to keep winning investment and business on the basis of cheap labor.