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In the ongoing debate of asking if China can make software the answer is an obvious and unequivocal yes. China can produce more software engineers and millions of lines of code in a few months than some Western countries can in years. Strip out the foreigners, overseas Chinese, and Chinese returnees who came back from school and work in the US from this process and the answer is probably no. The question to ask is if China can produce original and innovative software products that are more than localized versions of overseas products the answer is a big ambiguous maybe.
In some ways, the game industry in China in terms of technology and design can be described as derivative or outright clones of Taiwanese, Korean, Japanese or American games. In a few years, China will develop its own killer genres and platforms but its not going to be this year. However, in the business and deployment aspect of games (which aside from military is probably the most advanced software product in China), China has forged new and innovative schemes that cater to the local market preferences and economic means. in fact,the business and deployment model for games may be more advanced in China than in the west for casual and MMORPG games. The server loads of Chinese online games will dwarf the peak concurrent user stats of US based game servers.
So why is the business end more advanced than the technological end? Because the market had to be more innovative or the market never would have been created. Licensing and cloning was the lazy way out for innovation in game design.
The conference board report below is quite dead on about describing China's HR challenge. It seems even more applicable to the software and game industry as well.
Found via Talent in China Blog
Bridging China's Talent Gap
Feb. 21, 2007
The number of young people earning university and graduate degrees in China is increasing rapidly, raising the human capital and the quality of China's labor force. However, these newcomers to the workforce often lack the practical experiences and softer creative and leadership skills required in the business world, notes an Executive Action report from The Conference Board.
One of the main problems is China's educational system, which relies too heavily on memorization. Companies need people with creative writing and speaking skills, teamwork skills and leadership ability, which are not yet taught well in most of China's universities and graduate programs.
China's rapid economic growth — the fastest in the world for the past quarter century — is fueling extensive foreign investment, with many companies setting up branch offices, regional headquarters, and factories in the country. One effect of this economic transformation is that demand for highly talented employees in China, especially people with local and international managerial skills, now exceeds supply, which is driving up some of the compensation packages for top talents and managers to global levels.
"Making the talent search more difficult is the fact that the more experienced managers are in short supply and command high salaries," says Judith Banister, Director of Global Demographics at The Conference Board. Banister co-authored the report with David Learmond, Executive Fellow and Program Director for The Conference Board Asia-Pacific Council on Talent, Leadership Development and Organizational Effectiveness. "For multinationals, it is now a challenge not only to recruit the best people, but also to develop and retain them," says Banister, who is based in Beijing.
Young Adult Population Shrinking
China's population is aging rapidly, but the expanding number of people aged 40 and over is not well educated and does not constitute an adequate pool of talent for companies. Conversely, the number of people in their 20s and 30s is shrinking over time, but this is where the talents are located in China today.
Fortunately, China's steep fertility decline has been accompanied by a sharp rise in the "quality" of children in terms of improved health, chances of survival, and levels of educational attainment. These young people are often hungry for responsibility, position, and the trappings of success in order to support not only themselves, but also their aging and large extended families.
Says Banister: "A lot of young Chinese managers bear this burden and will readily move between employers in order to get a bigger salary, more status and more opportunities. This is one of the reasons why staff turnover rates are often very high in China."
China's Education System Still Evolving
The Chinese government knows it must increase the number of educated people if it is to compete economically. The fact that a lot of young people want to work for multinationals — mainly because of the high status it gives them — has persuaded some multinationals to forge links with universities to bring about change that otherwise might happen very slowly. In some universities, this approach has been well received and multinationals are reporting success in getting whatever skills they want.
"It is an approach that should be mutually beneficial because it allows students to be trained in a way that is useful to the multinational," says Banister. "Those students then have a fast track into a job with that multinational when they graduate." However, the practice sometimes falls short of this expectation as there is still a strong tendency for the university system to rely on "learn by rote" techniques. "Teamwork and creativity are qualities still in short supply among Chinese managers," says Banister.
Bridging China's Talent Gap…
Positive qualities of educated Chinese workers:
Source: Bridging China's Talent GapExecutive Action No. 221, The Conference Board
Here is Frank Mulligan's take on it
The report was completed by two pretty serious heavyweights, with specific knowledge of China, so it is worth reading. But if you don't have the time here is a bulleted summary, with additional background data of my own: