Tuesday, July 05, 2011

China Poaches Detroit Talent

Talent is the new oil. All of the resources in the world don't mean much if your country (or metro) lacks the brains to add value. China values this commodity more than anyplace on earth. The need for talent:

It is all part of Beijing’s much-touted plan to transform China into a country that designs and creates global brands – rather than merely assembling global products.

But for that the local car industry needs talent: engineers and especially managers trained overseas and experienced in the global car industry. Zhang Junyi, automotive consultant at Roland Berger in Shanghai, says China especially lacks engineers with the experience to manage other engineers.

"Experience" is the key variable. Producing more graduates doesn't address the shortage (not to mention takes too long to fill the pipeline). I'm seeing the same dynamic play out in the shale gas and oil revolution:

Another barrier to widespread exploitation of oil shale is that few companies have the expertise and experience to do the work. Chinese and Indian oil companies are investing in joint shale ventures in the United States and other countries in part so they can learn the new exploration and drilling techniques.

And there is China, again, at the front of the line seeking talent. Rust Belt metros would be wise to follow its lead. I've mused before about Chinese talent geopolitics serving as a model for better leveraging inevitable outmigration. Creative policy innovation is increasingly clustered in developing countries. To paraphrase Vivek Wadhwa, the teacher must become the student.

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