29 May
2006
Posted in: Education   
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Intercultural Competence Important to Graduates

In October 2005, Mckinsey (MGI) published a report entitled Addressing China’s Looming Talent Shortage, which pointed out that

“Despite China’s enormous pool of university graduates (3.1 million in 2005 alone), MGI research suggests that fewer than 10 percent of Chinese job candidates, on average, would be suitable for work in a foreign company, and the fast-growing domestic economy absorbs most of those who could.”

Addressing the same issue, the post entitled Bridging the ‘talent gap’ with training on this blog also gives analysis on the culture gaps in some areas between domestic Chinese companies and multinational companies and stresses the need for Chinese graduates to be more intercultually competitive.

The term of intercultural competence is expressed as international understanding, or global awareness in most cases in China. With repect to talent development, it is often referred to as talent globalization. In 2005, when ChinaHR, one of the biggest internet job hunting and recruitment websites in China, and Monster, one of the biggest internet job search engines on the web, launched their partnership, a semniar entitled Conference on China Talent Globalization 2005 Beijing was held to mark of the start. The theme was, as a matter of fact, the intercultural competance of talents!

The word ‘culture’ has a broad and vague meaning in Chinese language. So as ‘intercultural’. Intercultural is still a ‘new word’ in the language and a new concept in some sense. Currently, it only appears in some specialized academic subjects of media and communications, and related subjects like language studies. In daily life and daily readings, the concept is expressed with international/global understanding/awareness.

Since China’s opening-up more than 25 years ago, people have gradually realized the importance of intercultural/international competence. It is both the cause and outcome of the necessity for communications with the outside world. And, it also represnents the practical individual needs to pursue better jobs.

In the past few years, as the result of the dramatic enrollment expansion in late 90’s, universities and collages are producing more graduates, taking the competition of the job market up to a new level. Meanwhile, as reported, more international talents are coming into the country. By the statistic of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security that the number of expatriates working in China has doubled to 150,000 in the last three years. The reason for the increase, according to Bridging the ‘talent gap’ with training, is due to the inability of the educational system to produce enough suitable talents.

Graduates lack of intercultural competence has been a longstanding issue in China. Interestingly, although it appeared that people both inside and outside the educational system know about the question and measures were taken, it is obvious that more reform measures in education need to be taken to produce not just more graduates but more suitable ones” (by MGI report), more suitable ones with intercutural/international awareness and competence.

Intercultural/international competence, as personal ability, is important for every individual graduate. And, as Mckinsey suggested, it is also important for China “to avoid this talent crunch and to sustain the economic ascent of the past 20 years”, and “reforms in the educational system – including greater emphasis on practical and language skills – will help the country fill its skilled-labor gap.” (Mckinsey, Addressing China’s Looming Talent Shortage)

So, what do you think?

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