Chinese market will generate jobs for energy-finance candidates next year

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The energy sector in Asia is growing fast and, as energy investment increases, so too will opportunities for experienced candidates throughout the region.

This is especially good news for those in the energy finance sector who may have struggled to move roles in 2012. But it is also positive for anyone with energy expertise on their CV.

Energy markets in Asia have a well-documented skills shortage. And recruiters will often be willing to look beyond their briefing sheets to fill these roles. Job seekers with electricity experience in Canada, for example, could find themselves considered for roles trading coal in Singapore. A year ago, that might not have been the case.

We are seeing three particular developments in the market right now that will open up opportunities in 2013: clean energy investment, power generation, and RMB trading.

Clean energy

Clean energy in China will be an important area of growth. China aims to generate 15 per cent of its power from renewable energy, including wind, in the next 10 years. And Chinese companies are ramping up their investment in clean-energy projects to meet the target.

To accommodate this investment, developers are moving away from traditional forms of project financing, towards more innovative financing structures. The result? More roles for top-quality finance candidates in the region.

People with private equity, M&A, or corporate-development experience in established energy markets in the West should therefore find themselves in demand in 2013. There will also be particular interest in candidates with energy project-finance experience.

Power generation

At the same time, demand for power is increasing. With it, we are seeing greater investment in power-generation projects in China. This is a slightly longer-term trend, but one that will lead to opportunities from late 2013, when employers look for people with power-market experience.

Candidates for domestic power projects will need Chinese language skills, but there are still opportunities in the region for those without. If a candidate can show recruiters that they understand the sector and have power-market or broader energy experience, they should still find themselves in demand as these projects build up from late next year.

RMB trading

There will also be opportunities created by the growth in overseas RMB trading. China has signed a number of bilateral trade agreements with countries such as Russia and the UK, all denominated in RMB.

And the expertise built up by these overseas RMB traders will be highly valued back home. Firms are already putting out mandates for 2013, asking us to keep an eye out for experienced RMB traders, so candidates considering a move should see their options increase next year.

As the energy sector continues to boom in Asia, 2013 will be a significant growth year. Candidates will be the main beneficiaries, as companies bring in skills and experience from more developed markets outside the region. For Chinese nationals working in the West, this provides a great opportunity for a move back home to share their expertise. And for other candidates contemplating a move to Asia from the West for the first time, 2013 may be just the year to make it happen.

Emma Charnock is director, Hong Kong and China, at specialist energy recruiter Spencer Ogden.

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