Skilled workers are nowadays eager to work abroad
Posted on October 14, 2014
WHETHER equipped with a master’s degree in business or another qualification sought after by employers, today’s workers, especially younger ones, are remarkably keen to have a spell working outside their home countries. An online survey of more than 200,000 people in 189 countries, published this week by the Boston Consulting Group, a management consultant, and The Network, a recruitment agency, found that almost two-thirds of respondents would contemplate working abroad—and that one in five already had. The sample is somewhat skewed: most respondents were aged 20-50, and most had further- or higher-education qualifications. But such workers are the talent that companies—and countries—most need to attract.
In some cases the findings are not so surprising. In strife-torn Pakistan, 97% of respondents said they would leave the country in search of work. But almost as high a proportion, 94%, were prepared to work abroad in the stable, prosperous Netherlands. The figure was the same in France, but in America barely one-third expressed willingness to work in another country. In Britain and Germany the figure was 44%. However, almost everywhere younger workers were much more open to the idea (see chart): in America 59% of those in their twenties said they would leave the country for work.
Asked to list the foreign countries they would consider moving to, America came up most frequently, with 42% of non-Americans mentioning it, followed by Britain and Canada. But when asked to choose a city, London came first, with 16% of respondents choosing it, compared with 12.2% for New York, the next most popular place. Nobody much wanted to work in China or other Asian countries, with the language barrier being the main deterrent.
The report concludes by arguing that governments will in the future need to do more to build attractive cities with good public services, or suffer a “brain drain”. Skilled workers will also need to realise that the pool of competitors for the best jobs is now bigger than before. Being unwilling to get some experience working abroad could mean that their careers also end up going nowhere.