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Creating a bright future by gathering top global talents and making the most of them —— A talk with Yu Xing'an, president of the Chinese Academy of Personnel Science

Updated :2019-04-09

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) released the Opinions on Deepening the Institutional Mechanism Reform of Talent Development (hereinafter referred to as the Opinions) on March 21, 2016, which aims to formulate a comprehensive blueprint for the institutional reform of talent development from a strategic perspective and push China's talent development to new highs.

Subsequently, the institutional reform of talent development began to draw attention across the nation.

Three years have passed. How effective has the implementation of the Opinions been? What have the reforms done for the country? What aspects still need more work? Yu Xing'an, president of the Chinese Academy of Personnel Science, was invited to give answers.

Talents help lay the foundation of a nation and lead to business prosperity. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, General Secretary Xi Jinping has provided a number of important instructions on how to nurture more talent. He has repeatedly stressed the need to establish a system to gather the world's top talents and make full use of them.

The institutional reform of talent development is an important part of China's overall efforts in deepening reform and an important part of the reform of the Party's construction system.

The Opinions focuses on eliminating ideas and practices that hinder the development of personnel, thereby liberating and enhancing talent vitality, forming an internationally competitive talent system and gathering top global talents.

The Opinions is an important guiding document for how to increase the number of talents in the new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

1. Breaking institutional barriers to talent development

Q: What is at the core of these institutional reforms of talent development? What are the key points?

A: The institutional reform of talent development is intended to break the ideological and institutional barriers that restrict talent development. The administrative restrictions to talent management in China are relatively strong, and the decisive role of the market has not been effectively exerted. In this regard, the Opinions targets the internal and external barriers that have long imprisoned public institutions. It emphatically promotes reform in key areas such as personnel training, evaluation, mobility, incentives and introduction, and has injected strong momentum into talent development.

The Opinions proposed a number of specific measures, including transforming the government's talent management function, encouraging the talent management department to streamline administrative procedures and eliminate excessive interference with employers. It has directly targeted the core issues and won wide acclaim for doing so.

To transform the government's talent management strategy, we must, in accordance with the requirements of separating government functions from social services, governance from administration and government regulation from management, let go of the power that should be delegated and let the market do what it can. We should focus on the macro-management of talents and the formulation of policies and regulations, public services, supervision and protection.

This highlights the correct role of government in the new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Q: In the past three years, what are the major achievements that have been made in building an internationally competitive talent system?

A: Talent management is like a game of chess – an aggressive strategy will save the game. The institutional reform of talent development has continued to break new ground throughout the past three years. Since the release of the Opinions, the central government and local governments have launched a series of innovative reform initiatives.

The Central Office and the State Council successively issued the Several Opinions on Implementing the Distribution Policy Based on Increasing Knowledge Value, Opinions on Deepening the Reform of Professional Title System, Opinions on Deepening the Reform of Project Evaluation, Talent Evaluation and Organizational Evaluation and other documents, which relaxed restrictions on talents and employers, responded to the demand for grassroots change and promoted the establishment of an internationally competitive talent system.

The scent of flowers is everywhere in spring. The successive introduction of these major policies has driven local governments to formulate regional, industrial and systematic talent policies, and set up talent development policy systems that echo and connect with each other.

The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security issued the Guiding Opinions on Supporting and Encouraging Innovation and Entrepreneurship of Professional and Technical Personnel in Public Institutions and the Opinions on Giving Full Play to Market Role to Promote Smooth and Orderly Flow of Talents. The Ministry of Science and Technology took the lead in formulating the Action Plan for Promoting the Transformation of Science and Technology Achievements. The Chinese Academy of Sciences issued the Opinion on Accelerating the Construction of National Hub for Innovative Personnel.

A comprehensive talent system and mechanism reform, designed at the top levels and carried out locally, has allowed the Party and all of society to improve their ideas, more deeply instilled the importance of talent development into the hearts of the people, and constantly optimized the environment for talent development.

2. Maximize the vitality of talent innovation and entrepreneurship

Q: What role did the Opinions play in accelerating the construction of strengthening the country with talents?

A: The implementation of the Opinions has promoted local governments to take Xi’s Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era as their guide, given full play to the Party's political advantages in talent management, continued to promote the institutional mechanism reform of talent development, and created a better environment for developing talents.

The Opinions focused on the needs of economic and social development and major national strategies, formulated scientific reform plans and policy measures, promoted the adaptation and coordination of talent size, quality and structure with economic and social development, and deeply integrated talent development with economic, political, cultural, social and ecological civilization construction.

Where national major strategy improves, talent work will follow. According to the Belt and Road Initiative, we accelerated the training of personnel for major infrastructure construction, business operation and management, non-common languages and national and regional research.

In order to support Shanghai and Beijing in building science and technology innovation centers with global influence, we tailored personnel policies for innovation-driven development strategies, free trade zone construction, and major national and science and technology projects. We formulated a Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei talent integration development plan and started researching and formulating personnel measures to support the construction of Xiong'an New Area. We encouraged all kinds of outstanding personnel to join the national defense cause and promote the in-depth integration of military and civilian development.

Q: Do people expect the Opinions to stimulate talent innovation, creation and entrepreneurship to the greatest extent. How effective has it been in the past three years?

A: Since the Opinions was released, the talent development system has been steadily improving with the implementation of various reform measures.

"Begging for food with a golden bowl" used to be how many domestic universities and research institutes were portrayed. The implementation of the distribution policy, which aims to increase the value of knowledge, will enable the majority of scientific and technological talents to achieve both fame and fortune.

In order to solve the problem of "managing talents as officials", a scientific and technological personnel management system different from Party and government cadres was established. There is no limit to the number of times teaching and research personnel can go abroad for academic exchanges. The funds for going abroad were not included in the public expenses. The "naked official" management is not simply applied to the overseas high-caliber personnel.

For a long time, professional technical personnel have been struggling to cope with the requirements for professional title assessment, in terms of the number of papers they must publish, foreign languages they must speak and computer skills they must know. Through the reform of the professional title system, the requirements for foreign languages and computer skills in professional title assessments will be abolished.

While reducing restrictions for personnel, it also delegated more power to the employing units. The authority of personnel employment, achievements management, title evaluation, salary distribution, equipment procurement and infrastructure approval has been delegated to universities and research institutes.

The measures for deepening the institutional  reform of talent development in the Opinions encouraged talented professionals to do more research. The talent flow among the government, enterprises and think tanks has become a reality. High-caliber personnel are able to enjoy more benefits from innovation, which greatly promotes talent development.

All kinds of personnel have been matched with appropriate positions conducive to innovation and entrepreneurship. Recent years have seen a number of achievements including the export of high-speed railway, the launching of the Chang'e lunar probe, quantum control, neutrino oscillation and BeiDou Navigation Satellite with wider applications, and cutting-edge innovations such as domestic large aircraft, domestic aircraft carriers, deep-sea submersibles, Tianhe-2, Tianzhou-11.

The practice of "gathering top global talents and making the most of them" will create a bright future for China.

3. Gathering talents for the cause of the Party and the country

Q: In the process of implementing the Opinions, what other aspects still need work?

A: Since the release of the Opinions, the benefits brought about by the institutional reform of talent development haven’t stopped. However, there are areas that we should improve on in the future.

From the perspective of institution, firstly, after the new round of reforms to the Party and government institutions, the talent work system and coordination mechanism should have a new adjustment and adaptation process, which has not yet been completed. Secondly, the autonomy granted to employers from political affairs needs to be further expanded, and the institutional system of public institutions is not yet complete.

The 7th meeting of the Central Committee of Deepening Reform held on March 19 this year stressed that “the relevant institutional system should be improved and the transformation of government functions should be accelerated” and urged "to give more autonomy to institutions such as universities and research institutes”.

From the perspective of policy, the relationship between talent policy for regional development and talent policy for serving the national strategy has not yet been fully reconciled and needs to be coordinated by the central government. For example, the central government emphasizes that it is necessary to guide talents at the grassroots level and to the central and western regions. However, the introduction of talent policies in many cities with strong economic strength often forms obstacles that prevent national strategies from being effectively implemented.

Secondly, the relationship between the preferential policy for talents and the basic system for talents needs to be further standardized. For example, regarding the realization of the value of talent knowledge, the newly introduced encouragement policy should consider the relationship with the existing compensation system and personnel management system. The key point should be to properly formulate preferential policies on the premise of ensuring the operation of the basic system.

Q: As Socialism with Chinese characteristics enters a new era, what new problems and challenges will arise in the future implementation of the Opinions?

A: To further promote talent work in the new era, it is necessary to coordinate with factors such as economic restructuring, industrial transformation and upgrading, and changes in the international climate.

At present, global economic development is entering a period of profound adjustment. Digitalization, networking and intellectualization are becoming important driving forces for global economic growth.

The digital economy, sharing economy and industrial collaboration are spurring new economic forms. Many new talents do not belong to the previous talent management system. To further deepen the institutional reform of talent development, we must incorporate these new elements into the reform vision. There is likely to be a subversive conceptual revolution.

Talents are vital to the long-term survival of a nation. The Opinions pointed out that by deepening reforms, breakthroughs will be made in important areas of the talent development system by 2020. To achieve this goal, the institutional reform of talent development should be further promoted.

Relevant departments and units shall, in accordance with the Opinions, fully abide by the laws of the market and the law of talent growth, further deepen the institutional mechanism reform of talent development and inspire the vitality of talent innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.

They should gather outstanding talents for the cause of the Party and the country and make full use of the resources at their disposal to realize the Chinese Dream for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.