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    Half of Workers Unsure They’ll Be in Demand in 5 Years

    Newly released report also gives Chinese mainland high marks for women in leadership compared with Asian peers.

    Almost half of workers on the Chinese mainland either believe their current skills won’t be in demand in five years’ time or aren’t sure, according to a report released Friday.

    In its annual salary guide, global recruitment and human resources company Hays found that only 53 percent of mainland employees surveyed thought their skills would be still desirable in half a decade. About 13 percent thought their skills would no longer be attractive, while another 34 percent weren’t sure — the highest proportion of “not sure” responses of any of the five Asian countries and territories surveyed for the report.

    Simon Lance, the company’s managing director for greater China, attributed the results to Chinese people being cautious about how the workforce could change, rather than a more general uncertainty about the future.

    Lance said the lack of optimism was probably not connected to the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), which threatens to affect every industry in China, although he noted that companies have “a lot of work to do” to prepare employees for the future, such as training them in new skills.

    “I personally believe there are very few roles that won’t be changed or replaced by AI over time,” Lance said, adding that the rise of AI would also see a lot of new roles created. “I don’t worry too much about the future — I just recognize that it will be different.”

    This year could leave some workers disappointed, as the report found that there was a disconnect between what employers and workers expected when it came to pay raises. While 85 percent of respondents on the Chinese mainland expected a boost in pay of over 6 percent, only 51 percent of employers planned to offer the same increase.

    The report also found that the Chinese mainland remains near the top in Asia when it comes to women in leadership, with 37 percent of management roles held by women last year — a slight increase from the year before, but just below Malaysia’s chart-topping 38 percent. Still, the figure is significantly higher than bottom-of-the-pack Japan, where only 22 percent of management roles are held by women.

    “China is actually ahead of the curve a little bit for both Asia and global trends,” Lance said, citing the country’s rapid growth, particularly in the services sector, as a reason for the comparatively high proportion of female managers. “Employers probably care much less about gender, and much more about abilities.”

    Editor: David Paulk.

    (Header image: A woman interviews for a job in Changchun, Jilin province, Jan. 20, 2016. Zhang Nan/Xinhua)