International recruiter, Hays has unveiled its plans to become the largest recruitment consultancy in China by 2015. The Board of the UK-listed plc is meeting in Shanghai this week to review its Asian operations.

Hays’ earlier decision to double its own workforce in China over the course of 2010 has paid considerable dividends with the business witnessing a tripling of the number of people placed into jobs in China and a quadrupling of revenues.

Hays plc’s CEO Alistair Cox sees no sign of this demand slowing and today Hays is announcing its intention to open new offices in up to eight Chinese cities and quadruple its headcount to more than 300 consultants by 2015.

Alistair Cox said “Hays is an international business with more than 80% of its profits generated outside the UK. We have been in China for 5 years now and the business is ramping up quickly in what could become one of our biggest markets worldwide. We see huge opportunities in China for both our multinational clients and for local businesses starting up in this powerful economy.”

The key long term market trends in China are very attractive. The population of 1.32 billion today comprises a labour force of 814 million and an increasing demand for skilled and qualified professionals. There is a strong demand for quality candidates across a wide range of skills as diverse as engineering, pharmaceuticals, technology, finance and HR professionals.

Specialist recruitment companies such as Hays also see a huge opportunity as the market is dominated by in-house recruitment. Currently 70% of multinational companies in China recruit skilled labour using their own HR departments. Outsourcing that recruitment to external companies provides clients with deep and broad expert coverage of the entire worldwide market for skills.

There is also considerable potential outside the traditional coastal regions in mainland China where the first and second tier cities are flourishing as a result of government and private company initiatives. 58% of the population inhabits cities and there are around 120 smaller cities with populations in excess of 1 million. By 2025, China will have 219 cities with more than one million inhabitants and 24 cities will have more than 5 million people.*

Hays has a three pronged growth strategy for China:

• Grow in core specialisms – accountancy and finance, manufacturing and operations, banking, IT, pharma, property and construction
• Expand into 1st and 2nd tier cities
• Expand its recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) business following success with Goodyear and Misys