Jason Wincuinas
Apr 9, 2014

PwC, LinkedIn study highlights talent plight in China

HONG KONG – China has seen more people leave its talent pool than enter it in recent years, a fact a new joint report from PwC and LinkedIn calls out while looking into economic adaptability around the world. But there is more to the story if one views it as a starting point rather than an end.

Asia still lags in adopting professional networks
Asia still lags in adopting professional networks

The report also speculates that if companies in China improve programmes for talent training and retention that could unleash over US$65 billion worth of productivity gains (estimated total gain for all studied markets combine to reach $130 billion).

Adaptability became a focus for the researchers, who state “harnessing new technologies or exploiting new international markets” is key to what drives an economy to survive and flourish. Though China came out at the bottom in this study’s evaluation of that vital ingredient, digital trends within the country point to a much stronger future.

Consider the number of internet subscribers in China, which, depending on the source, hovers at about 600 million. And the number of mobile internet users, estimated near 500 million; both counts surpass just the raw population figures for most other countries. Add in the success of events like singles day in China, which bagged close to $6 billion worth of sales in 24 hours (a contrast to the famed cyber Monday in the US, which hit $2.29 billion in 2013, according to Adobe Digital Index). 

And digitally speaking there’s more adaptation going on in China. Tencent has reportedly become the world’s revenue leader in the game market, recently besting Microsoft and Sony despite the fact that the company’s titles are all online and it doesn’t even make a hardware console.

Plus, China’s WeChat, according to most reported metrics, is the world's second largest chat app behind Facebook’s WhatsApp. But in terms of revenue and innovation, WeChat should get the nod for leadership, with its social and mobile payment integration.

Digitally speaking that puts China on a firm footing to grow from its low base in the PwC/LinkedIn report. So while the data is sound, culled from LinkedIn itself, and the conclusions are absolutely reasonable, it’s also important to note that it represents a look back, not forward. The trends in China’s digital domain paint a naritive that’s much more upwardly plotted. 

The ‘Adapt to survive’ report puts the Neitherlands at the top of the adaptability spectrum and states the country’s entrepreneurial nature is an advantage, “as is its multilingual but largely English-speaking population. It also has moderate levels of sector diversity and positive (although modest) net migration. But most significantly, it’s also embraced social media far more quickly and wholeheartedly than any country outside the US.”

That digital adaption, while still at a relatively small snowball stage in China is what indicates a burgeoning future for the county’s marketers. And the best time to get in on a trend like that is near the bottom, not the top. Which is why Campaign has embarked on a mission to catalogue key people in China’s digital arena; we’re calling it our A-List. The site launches in June and after our Digital360 event in Shanghai we’ll host a gala event to honour those who make the list.

If you know people who belong on that list, you can still nominate them. We’re looking for digital marketers from all walks – media companies, creative agencies, brands, ad tech firms, digital video producers, etc. See our call for nominations to learn more.

The PwC/LinkedIn study offers tips for individuals, brands and even governments to improve adaptability, innovation and growth. It will be illuminating in years ahead to see which take up the advice and where different countries come in on the graph in the future.


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