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Shenzhen – Skyscraper City

Shenzhen is a rapidly expanding city in the Pearl River Delta, with a huge population and mega sized architecture.  It fast is becoming an ideal place for Engineering and construction professionals to gain some large scale project experience.

Shenzhen already contains two of the tallest skyscrapers in the world, the tallest being the KK100 tower – standing at 1,449 ft tall. Currently there are over 40 new sky scrapers (over 150m tall) under construction, and even more planned for the future. The tallest of which would be the 2nd tallest being in the world standing at over 2,000 ft. With the rise of these new building developments Shenzhen has become a construction hotbed in the Southern China region. This is pretty amazing considering Shenzhen didn't exist 30 years ago

Shenzhen’s sheer size cannot be overlooked: it is the 4th most populous city in China with a population of over 8.5 million, this truly is a city of rapid growth: both economically and socially, as is much the case with the rest of China as a country. In 2008, six of the world’s 10 tallest buildings constructed were in China, and in 2010 China became the world’s largest construction. By 2020, China is predicted to account for one-fifth of the global construction industry (up from current 14%). 

As construction gathers pace in Shenzhen and the rest of mainland China, the demand for skilled labour and engineering professionals will no doubt sore. As with any rapidly expanding city the supply of sufficiently skilled locally available labour market cannot always keep pace with the rapid growth - and therefore it is often expatriate professionals who are required to keep these mega sized construction projects moving forward. Due to Shenzhen’s geographic position and proximity to Hong Kong it could be considered an excellent location for Hong Kong’s skilled construction professionals to gain further project experience. 

Shenzhen’s super tall skyscraper ‘Pingan International Finance Centre” is already well under construction and will eventual climb to 660m tall. The high-rise will be completed at a rapid rate with a single floor due to take around 4 days to complete. The building itself will be mixed use with the podium at street level featuring a glazed envelope, while a large atrium will serve as a public forum for meeting, shopping and dining.

Shenzhen’s rapid growth is not uncommon in China, with the immergence of several other so called “Mega Cities” (populations of 10 million+) throughout the country. China will have an estimated 221 cities with a population of a million or more by 2025. Today, Europe only has 35 such cities. 8 of these cities are estimated to be “mega-cities” by 2025, and 2 of those will have populations of over 20 million. This huge population growth is reflected in the size and value of the construction projects needed to build these cities, not only the residential and commercial buildings but the numerous rail and road links required to connect these heavily populated areas.

The construction numbers for China are staggering, for example Shanghai built 1,500 miles of road in the past decade and it is estimated 170 new mass-transit systems could be built in China by 2025, more than twice the current number in Europe, and by 2025 China will pave up to 5 billion square meters of road, in addition to up to 28,000 KM of metro rail. 

Hotspot for Expats
The number of foreign workers on the Chinese Mainland (excluding those in the regions of Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan) increased to more than 240,000 in 2012, up 17% from 2007 — and that figure is still rising, according to China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security. Shanghai and Beijing remain the most popular expat destinations, although emerging cities like Shenzhen are now attracting the expat crowd!

One of the main draws to working in China is the economic growth and this is reflected in wages for Expats within the region. China’s wage growth has remained relatively robust with real wages in the private sector rising 14% in 2012, versus UK wages, for example, which sank 3%. Chinese wages are forecast to further inflate as further large scale construction projects begin to roll out. 

Although there is certainly a job market for Expats wanting to working in China, one barrier many will still face when searching is the requirement for a second language, for these jobs employers still prefer Chinese speaking candidates who have had overseas experience. Local Chinese based companies often view foreign hires as expensive and there will language/cultural barriers which will need to be addressed. The local talent pool is also adapting as it absorbs language skills and adopts the foreign education systems and qualifications once unique to outsiders, there is also a significant amount of Chinese nationals based outside China who are choosing to return home as wages rise. 

With this said many passionate and skilled foreign construction professionals do still manage to fashion out a niche for themselves in China at all career stages and are gaining unique experiences which they can then afterwards leverage to attain fulfilling and high-compensating jobs later in their careers.

Tim Cole
Maxim Recruitment
Hong Kong & Asia Region

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