kelly services.gifKelly Services ,a leading US recruitment firm, has acquired P-Serv, a Chinese company specialising in temporary and permanent staffing and executive search.

Established in 1990, P-Serv has offices in HK, Singapore and seven China cities — Chengdu, NanChang, Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. As part of Kelly's deal, Paul Ng, MD of P-Serv, will join Kelly Services as Senior Director and General Manager for Greater China

In 2006, China's staffing market was estimated at $2bn, and, according to Kelly Services, it is predicted to grow to $2.5bn this year due to continuing high demand for specialised talent. The general shortage of candidates combined with the continued solid economic environment makes China a promising market for western HR services industry.

Despite producing a large number of graduates each year, skills shortages are growing in China, particularly for multinationals who have long complained of the problems recruiting English-speaking local staff with practical experience.

We can expect more moves in China by western recruitment agencies, who have obvious advantages over their home-grown agencies in terms of size and experience. The HR services market in China is very new, highly fragmented and protected.

For example, temporary workers can only be employed through a domestic company, which obliges foreign firms to work through a local partner. Adecco, one of Europe's largest recruitment agencies, has a cooperative agreement for temporary recruitment with Shanghai Foreign Services Co.

More on China's recruitment market in this Adecco briefing paper (pdf).

More on China's skills shortage in this EngagingChina story.

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