Demand increases for Mandarin speakers
For years Britons working in the financial sector have swapped Blighty for China, and who can blame them?
With the current economic climate being what it is employment opportunities in the UK are limited and China has a lot to recommend it, such as its good working environment and its impressive opportunities for advancement. Furthermore, as the second largest economy in the world, China is capable of providing greater economic stability than many other leading nations.
However, as banking and financial sectors are responsible for supplying work for a quarter of all China’s expatriate employees it’s not surprising that competition for mid-high level positions can be fierce.
Impressive qualifications and relevant experience are essential for anyone hoping to work in China’s competitive financial environment, but in the current ‘employers market’ being able to speak Mandarin could be just as important.
Recently it seems that the demand for overseas bankers with a good command of Mandarin has dramatically increased, in both China and elsewhere. According to research firm Astbury Marsden the prospects for non Chinese-speaking applicants are dimming, particularly in areas like Hong Kong and Singapore.
With China as a nation becoming ever more prominent and with wealthy Chinese business people wielding increasing influence on the global stage, speaking Mandarin is proving to be an essential skill for anyone trying to get ahead.
As a Managing Director with Astbury Marsden commented: ‘For British expat bankers, having the technical skills and experience is no longer enough.’
Mark O’Reilly went on to say: ‘If your role in a bank or investment house is to deal with a mainland Chinese client, you are now expected to be fluent in Mandarin. There are still plenty of jobs in Hong Kong where you just deal with other English speakers but with the growth of Chinese banks, insurers and other corporates those jobs are a shrinking proportion of the pie.’
And it’s not just the financial sector searching for workers with a fluent grasp of Mandarin. Opportunities are far more abundant for foreign teachers, lawyers, entrepreneurs and management consultants who can speak Mandarin.
Mandarin might be a notoriously difficult language to learn but if you want to get ahead in your career it could be worth the effort! Learning Mandarin will hugely improve your international career prospects and help you to get much more out of China socially – should your job lead you to moving there. Having even the most basic grasp of the language will earn the respect and appreciation of locals.
Be aware that if you do decide to learn Mandarin you may be required to pass the Chinese Proficiency Test (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi/HSK) to prove your capability.
For information about Chinese languages and advice on how to learn them check out our country guide for China.