Dr. Denis F. Simon speaks on China's talent pool at the Brookings Institution

Dr. Denis F. Simon of the School of International Affairs joined a Brookings Institution panel to discuss the global impact of China's new strategic plan. The panel included Huiyao Wang, visiting fellow in foreign policy at the John L. Thornton China Center and Devesh Kapur, associate professor and director of the Center for the Advanced Study of India at the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Simon, who coauthored a book in 2009 with Cong Cao on the supply, demand and utilization of scientists and engineers in China, talked about the drivers underlying the growing demand for high end talent in China.

Using a broad range of statistical data from Chinese original sources, Dr. Simon highlighted why China is experiencing a serious talent shortage, even though the Chinese university system is producing more science and engineering graduates than ever before. "The shortage stems from the substandard nature of the training many of these students receive and the fact that a large percentage lack the requisite skills in areas such as critical thinking, entrepreneurship, and creativity," he said.

Dr. Simon pointed out that a key catalyst in overcoming existing shortages from a qualitative point of view may be the impact of a growing number of experienced returnees who have worked abroad for 5-10 years. These persons could serve as an important catalyst in bringing into the Chinese work and R&D environments new norms and values that support and nurture independent thinking and innovative behavior. Proceedings of the session are available at www.brookings.edu.