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back to index backCHINAtalk March,  2005


Training Chinese knowledge workers fails

Shanghai - In a thorough study on how China's human capital is educated and training, Will Hickey paints a grim picture of wrong perceptions among all players, over expensive and ethnocentric training that basically fails to prepare China's employees to build up a solid resources of knowledge workers.

Will Hickey, a former Fulbright Fellow, currently teaches in Almaty, Kazakhstan. You can download his full article " An Evaluation of Foreign HR Consulting Company Effectiveness in China ", reproduced with the kind permission of the author.

Summary:

Chinese workers are remarkably well adapted to crunch numbers, do engineering, and utilize software but the issues of communication, collaboration, teamwork and leadership are endemic problem areas. The findings indicated that continuous use of ethnocentric solutions are meeting with questionable results.

There is a large assumption about exactly who develops and how to develop talent of both workforce and management in China. Foreign direct investment (FDI) believes it to be local Chinese polytechnical schools and universities, alternatively, the Chinese government looks for Western expertise to develop their citizenry. A real time assessment shows that MNC management, whether ex-patriate or Western educated Chinese management, believe consulting and training companies in China can do the job. All three are misguided.

At Chinese universities concepts such as teambuilding, group discussion, leadership, and presentation are not put forward, as they are in Western ones. Of course, much of this is promulgated by the government, which does not want its citizens engaging in active dialogue, and has therefore discouraged, if not banned, such activities from its universities and colleges. Chinese universities are now partnering with Western universities to deliver "executive MBA" programs. Respondents told the researcher anecdotally they consider this training expensive and unreliable.

Western companies will not invest long term in the soft skills development of their employees until the Chinese government does something about the high mobility issues among management and skilled workforce. High job mobility and a lack of succession planning hinder a commitment to human resource development.

The results to their employees, delivered by content consultants are not seriously evaluated by foreign companies in China. Seeing a happy face is often enough, rather than investigating whether a serious learning transfer is making its way back into work process, and to the final level, profitability. While it is acknowledged that these consultants have the expertise to effectively transfer skills in China, the implementation phase is still ethnocentric, and could impede the overall learning transfer.

While Chinese HRM consider Western consulting companies and training companies as having high criterion validity, the issue of communicating that validity to Chinese employees and staff is problematic.

Download the full article here (PDF, 720KB). The article was originally published in the Performance Improvement Quarterly, no. 17 (1) in the Spring of 2004.

Source: Cbiz.cn - March 8, 2005 - GAI


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