Professor co-authors book on China's scientific and engineering talent

June 23, 2009

Cambridge University Press recently published "China's Emerging Technological Edge: Assessing the Role of High End Talent," co-authored by Denis Fred Simon, professor of international affairs at Penn State's School of International Affairs, and Cong Cao, a senior research associate at SUNY's Levin Institute. The book is the first comprehensive study of China's scientific and engineering talent pool in more than four decades. The last comprehensive work on the subject was authored by Leo Orleans under the sponsorship of the National Science Foundation in 1965.

Working with a unique set of data and statistical information garnered from over 1 1/2 years of interviews and fieldwork in China, the book examines and analyzes the supply, demand and utilization of scientists and engineers in the People's Republic of China. The role of talent in China has become increasingly important as Chinese leaders have tried to facilitate a strategic transition from "China as factory to the world" to "China as a leading innovation-oriented nation." To produce the book, the authors had to carry out and coordinate extensive meetings and discussions with China's Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Personnel, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, several key Chinese universities, and a range of foreign companies operating in China.
The research, which was supported by IBM and the Levin Institute under SUNY, represents one of the most in-depth efforts to synchronize both the supply and demand side perspectives in assessing whether China will have sufficient numbers of qualified scientists and engineers to meet the growing needs of its economy and research and development system for high end talent. While there is little doubt China will continue to produce a large number of university graduates in science, engineering, and management, the fact remains that currently only a small percentage of graduates actually meet the evolving requirements for employment in terms of prior work experience, applied skills, language, creativity, and entrepreneurial orientation.


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