LinkedIn partners with Tsinghua University to publish the China Digital Economy Talent Report

Digital economy in China shows a “strong south and weak north”; talents remain in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hangzhou

The strength of the Chinese economy and the integration of technology into traditional industries have become important new driving forces of China’s economic growth, with digital talents critical to China’s digital transformation. To help the government and the industries be more informed about digital talents, the Tsinghua SEM Center for Internet Development and Governance (CIDG) collaborated with LinkedIn to publish the first-ever China Digital Economy Talent Report.

Based on LinkedIn’s Economic Graph, the report runs a detailed analysis on Chinese professionals’ employment experiences, professional skills, and talent flows over the past three years, and concludes with advice for China’s talent strategy as it pertains to digital skills.

President Xi Jinping reported at the 19th CPC National Congress that the real economy is the next-step focus of economic development, and that the integration between the internet, big data, artificial intelligence and the real economy should be strengthened.

Professor Yubo Chen, head of the CIDG noted:

“The continuous development of the Chinese economy’s digital transformation positions digital talents as the core competency to generate innovation-driven development and company transformation. The digital talents here are not only defined as those with ICT (information and communications technologies) expertise, but trans-disciplinary talents with complementary skills for ICT. More specifically, we categorized digital talents consists into six types according to the various requirements of the transformation of the value chain, which are digital strategy management, deep analysis, research and development, advanced manufacturing, digital operation and digital marketing and conducted systematic research about the status quo and trend of the demand and flow of digital talents in the whole country and in different regions.”

Shifting from “the age of mobile internet” to “the age of intelligence,” digital technologies continue to promote the evolution of industries beyond ICT, as well as bringing transformative changes to the labor market overall.

“To respond to questions such as the number of digital talents and what kinds of talents are in severe shortage, LinkedIn worked with CIDG in a research about Chinese digital talents based on the Economic Graph, which includes talent profile and talent flow trends," said Francis Tsang, Head of International Engineering and Interim President at LinkedIn China. "The research provides government overall suggestions for scientific talent support strategies, which aim to train future-oriented and digital talents that reflect the times."

Introducing LinkedIn’s Economic Graph

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network, with more than 530 million members globally. In China, LinkedIn now has more than 36 million members. And today, LinkedIn is launching the Economic Graph in China.

LinkedIn’s Economic Graph is a digital representation of the global economy based on data generated from 530 million members, 50,000 skills, 18 million companies, 11 million open jobs, and 29,000 educational institutions. Through mapping every member, company, job, and school, LinkedIn data can uncover trends like talent migration, hiring rates, and in-demand skills by region.

By partnering with governments and organizations around the world to share these insights, LinkedIn works to connect people to economic opportunities. International organizations such as The World Bank and the World Economic Forum have already partnered with LinkedIn to use Economic Graph insights to help inform economies all over the world.

In China, the Economic Graph already has 36 million members, 364,000 companies, 23,000 skills, and 15,000 schools. With the new China Digital Economy Talent Report, LinkedIn is launching the Economic Graph in China in order to help China’s policymakers, employers, and professionals better understand the digital skills needed in China today.

The digital talents distribution in China shows a weak north and strong south; most digital talents stay in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen for better career development.

Top 15 Cities of Digital Talents

According to the report, the distribution of digital talents is highly in accordance with the level of development of digital economy. The 10 cities with the largest pools of digital talent are: Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Suzhou, Nanjing, Wuhan and Xi'an. With Beijing, Tianjin, the Yangtze River Delta, and the Pearl River Delta being the hub for digital talents, southern cities show clear advantage over northern ones in terms of the number of digital talents. In contrary with the hot topic of “escaping from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou," digital talents still tend to flow into tier-one cities with Shanghai and Shenzhen being the top two cities in terms of talent influx. The third place was taken by Hangzhou in place of Beijing.    

Manufacturing, financing and consumer goods are leading the trend of internet, and diversified advantages are seen in different regions.

The report shows that about 50 percent of digital talents are in basic industries such as internet, information communication and other ICT industries while others are in traditional industries such as manufacturing, financing and consumer goods. Meanwhile, diversified advantages in digital transformation talents in different regions has also been seen.  

Superior Industries in Digital Transformation in Top 10 Cities of Digital Talents

Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Hangzhou are the “leading cities” promoting the digital transformation of economy in China and enjoy large advantages in terms of the number and overall structure of digital talents. In Beijing and Hangzhou, talents in basic ICT industries outnumber those in ICT convergence industry, and enjoy obvious talent advantage in big data analysis. Most digital talents in Shanghai and Shenzhen are in manufacturing industry, accounting for 22.7 percent and 17 percent of the total number respectively.

Additionally, compared with the national standard, Shenzhen and Guangzhou enjoy special advantage in terms of talents in consumer goods industries. Chengdu, Suzhou, Nanjing, Wuhan and Xi’an are “cities of fast growth” in this round of digital transformation with their digital talents shifting from basic ICT industries to ICT convergence industries. Cities like Suzhou have already gained its advantages with 44.6 percent of digital talents in ICT convergence industries.

With the global digital economy speeding up its innovation and deepening integration, China economic transformation entered a new phase where the shift from the demand side to the supply side and the change of economic development focus from consumer goods to manufacturing gradually take place. Compared with the digital transformation that happened in the consumer goods industry which rely heavily on the demographic dividend brought by the large number of netizens, the digital transformation in production will depend more on “talent dividend.”

The huge talent gap in big data and artificial intelligence and talents with technological and management expertise are extremely hard to find.

Categorized by positions held, over 85 percent of digital talents in China are in positions related to product research and development while less than 5 percent work in deep analysis, advanced manufacturing, digital marketing among other positions. Despite the discussion about artificial intelligence on the internet, there’s still a huge talent gap in big data analysis, advanced manufacturing, digital marketing and other newly emerged positions. The lag in training talents expertise at emerging technologies and innovations is still severe.

Rankings of most needed digital positions in “leading cities” (left column) and “cities of fast growth” (right column).

In terms of the demand for digital talents, research and operational departments in basic ICT industries rank the first. Talents for mid-level management positions are most wanted while demand for entry-level positions gradually dropped. Because of the rapid development of ICT industries, demands for data analysts and built-in software engineers show an uptrend while in Shanghai, the needs for e-commerce specialist are increasing. In Chengdu where entertainment industry is especially prospered, a rising need for user experience designers is seen. In Suzhou, in accordance with its economic strategy, most digital talents are in manufacturing industry, which continues to show high demand of digital talents.

Generally, despite the predominance of needs for programming and data analysis expertise, employers start to value more of candidates’ overall skill set including technological, management and leadership skills. In recent years, an absolute increase of needs for talents with both technological and management skills such as program management and product operation expertise are seen.

With the insight from this report, academic institutions can direct its talent training strategies according to the supply and demand relations in different positions. Governments can learn better about talent flow and technological gap so as to generate targeted talent acquisition strategies for better connections between talents and opportunities and eventually more prosperous future.

As suggested by Professor Chen Yubo:

“Through the in-depth learnings about digital talents, both central and local governments can be more informed of the development of digital economy and digital transformation in the country as a whole and in different regions. The government could be more targeted to acquire and train digital talents and build talent acquisition and training mechanisms based on demand. The industry basis and innovative environments deserve to be valued more when it comes to retaining digital talents. It is advisable for local governments to attract digital talents through accumulating industry advantages rather than simply offering benefits. ”  

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About Tsinghua SEM Center for Internet Development and Governance

Founded in April 2016, the Tsinghua SEM Center for Internet Development and Governance (CIDG) leverages its research in the field of Internet economy and management, advantages in talent raining and international influence to echo the national cyber development strategy. Aiming to lead the digital transformation of the China economy, and centered on issues including digital economy, business innovation in the era of Global connection, the digital transformation of the China economy and Internet governance, CIDG pools the resource of global top experts and make use of cutting-edge technologies such as Internet big data to better government decision-making process, promote technological and business innovation and public affairs development, and build a collaborative platform for digital economy development and industry innovation, serving as the think-tank for relevant industries and corporations.  

About LinkedIn

LinkedIn was founded in 2003 and headquartered in Silicon Valley, California, USA, with offices in more than 30 cities worldwide. LinkedIn’s mission is to connect the world's professionals to make them more productive and successful. As the world's largest professional network, LinkedIn have more than 530 million users, covering more than 200 countries around the world, including executives from every Fortune 500 company. In 2016, Fortune ranked LinkedIn as one of the 50 “Change the World” companies. LinkedIn has a diversified business model with revenue coming from the Talent Solutions, Marketing Solutions, Sales Solutions and Premium Subscriptions products. LinkedIn's vision is to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce, and create the world's first Economic Graph.

In January 2014, choosing "领英" as its Chinese name, LinkedIn officially announced its entry into China in order to better connect the Chinese professionals, and to provide a global platform to help them achieve their career aspirations. Through its big data and global platform, LinkedIn hopes to connect global talents and business opportunities with Chinese government and businesses, and thus help support China's economic development. Since LinkedIn's entrance into China, the number of Chinese users has increased by more than 8 times, numbering at over 36 million users. Currently, there are over 2.6 million job opportunities offered through more than 364K companies and 15K schools. And China members collectively have over 23K standardized skills.   

About LinkedIn’s Economic Graph  

LinkedIn’s Economic Graph is a digital representation of the global economy based on data generated from 530 million members, 50,000 skills, 18 million companies, 11 million open jobs, and 29,000 educational institutions. In short: it’s all the data on LinkedIn. Through mapping every member, company, job, and school, we’re able to spot trends like talent migration, hiring rates, and in-demand skills by region. These insights help us connect people to economic opportunity in new ways. By partnering with governments and organizations around the world we help them better connect people to opportunities.


Media Contact:

Ms. Wei JIN (Tsinghua SEM CIDG)

Tel: +86 10 62797199



Mr. Billy HUANG (LinkedIn)

Tel: +86 10 50872484