UK employers are being encouraged to give Chinese students studying in the country more work experience opportunities to improve their job prospects when they return to China.
The move could prove controversial given China’s perceived threat to the UK economy, but organisers of the initiative insisted it would provide a “bridge” between the two nations.
The China-UK Internship Programme, devised by international consultancy Global Education Group (GEG) and the Chinese Embassy in the UK, is designed to help Chinese students, who find it difficult to get practical work experience while they study.
Jean Dong, managing director of GEG, said that Chinese students were hampered by their linguistic abilities and cultural differences when seeking work placements. This puts the 80,000 Chinese students currently studying in the UK at a disadvantage, because their counterparts who stay in China often progress faster and further in the local job market.
Dong denied the suggestion that she expected UK firms to give Chinese students experience and expertise so that they could take it back to competitors in China.
“These students will form a bridge for relations between the UK and China,” she said. “Companies should choose to work with [China] and not against it.”