Recent research from PwC has predicted that the number of workers taking on global assignments is set to increase by 50% over the coming decade as companies consider where talent needs to be based in order to fulfil growth ambitions. The research results were gleaned from 900 global companies and reveal that new forms of global mobility will need to be offered to respond to the skills shortage, changing business needs and employee preferences.
According to the research, only 1% of people are now working on traditional assignments which involve three years in a different country then returning home. The number of mobile workers, including long distance commuters has increased to approximately 8% of the working population. The research also revealed that the average length of a posting abroad has now dropped to 18 months and the number of female workers that are expected to take up global assignments is expected to increase. Women are expected to take 25% of all foreign posts by 2020. In order to deal with talent constraints PwC believes that companies need to increase their number of globally mobile employees.
Comments on globally mobile job opportunities
‘Many companies are facing the reality that they don’t have the right talent in the right places to fulfil their global growth ambitions. Skills gaps in overseas markets, the changing business world and preferences of a new generation of employees will force many organisations to increase global mobility opportunities for their staff,’ said Carol Stubbings, UK international assignment services leader at PwC. ‘The era where assignments meant a three or four year relocation is coming to an end. New forms of global mobility are developing in response to business demands and employee preferences, many of which don’t involve relocation at all. Long distance commuting, virtual mobility, project based and assignee led projects are all set to become the norm. These will offer greater flexibility for both employers and employees and should help to reduce global mobility costs.’
Oversees employment wanted
Companies are adapting to the fact that a new generation of workers are indeed wanting to work overseas. New graduates see international opportunities as key to their employment progression. The research revealed that 71% of new recruits want an overseas assignment during their career. However, this generation has clear preferences over where they want to work, with the US, UK and Australia firmly at the top of the list. According to the research, only 11% are willing to work in India and 2% in mainland China.
Stubbings added the following on new employees wishing to work abroad, ‘it is great news for employers that the next generation of workers want to work abroad but the issue will come when trying to align employees’ expectations and companies’ needs and growth prospects. Companies are likely to need workers to go to fast growing emerging economies and new urban hotspots, rather than the more popular and developed locations favoured by graduates.’
Traditional employment flow
Changing demographics and the growing importance of emerging markets means that the traditional talent flow is likely to reverse from West to East. Skilled workers from emerging economies are going to be increasingly moving in to developed markets, often on short term assignments, to gain experience which can be used in the home market.
‘The historically high value place on experience earned in the West looks set to be overtaken by demand for skilled workers from emerging markets. Local workers with international experience will be much more attractive to domestic employers than foreign workers in the same market. These workers are likely to use the skills earned in the West to cement new regions as international business hubs,’ said Iain McClusky, director, UK international assignment services at PwC. ‘Investment in education in Asia and Africa is creating a steady stream of talented youngsters who will increasingly be in demand at home and abroad. Global companies need to consider their potential talent shortfalls and source and train more talent from different regions.’