Workforce 2025: The Age of Talent Mobility

Talent Mobility

Wayne Bruce, CEO, Ccentric


Talent mobility is on the rise and today more than ever, professionals – both young and old – desire a career that comes with the opportunity to travel and see the world.  In fact, a PwC report revealed that global assignee levels have increased by 25 per cent over the last decade, with a further 50 per cent growth in mobile employees expected by 2020.

The business world is undergoing unprecedented change. Rapid technological advancements are increasingly removing the traditional barriers brought about by geographical boundaries, creating a knock on effect on the way talent, knowledge and skills are sourced.

For the global market, talent mobility is an enormous source of economic vitality, enabling various industries to narrow the gap on harder-to-fill vacancies. On the other hand for businesses, it is clearly one of the keys to balancing surpluses and deficits of skills within their respective teams.

What about individuals then? Why do executives choose to move their careers overseas?

Reasons professionals are moving abroad

Interestingly it’s not always about the money. According to our 2016 Executive Mobility Survey, when professionals are looking to relocate, the job factors they consider first are ‘professional development’, followed by a ‘challenging role’ and ‘making a difference’. ‘Remuneration’ was actually a distant fourth.

Rather surprisingly, men valued ‘career opportunities’ and the ‘ability to lead’ more than women when assessing a new employer abroad. This is despite the increasing focus and drive towards gender equality in the workplace, with the Australian Institute of Company Directors indicating that women are on track to make up 30 per cent of board directors for ASX 200 companies by 2018.

Instead, women prioritised ‘mission and values’, ‘leadership team’ and ‘supportive workplace’ more when considering relocation – options that lean towards a preference for a more empathetic work environment. More work certainly needs to be done on the gender parity front.

The state of talent mobility in 2017 and beyond

While the desire to relocate remains high – with 78 per cent of respondents indicating they would do so if given the opportunity – the survey revealed a slight decrease from the 84.5 per cent recorded in 2012. This could potentially be a result of global instability, brought about by the Brexit episode and the US presidential elections, amongst others.

No doubt, political uncertainty is constantly shifting the barriers to talent mobility, so it’s important that recruitment strategies are nimble enough to react quickly to changes.

That being said, given that every executive who had previously lived abroad agreed it was a positive experience, it is unlikely that global mobility will be significantly impacted by political movements. In fact, more than half went on to stay in their host country even after the completion of their assignment, with more than one in five (26%) staying on for over 10 years.

Whether we like it or not, we are facing a world where talented people are prepared to chase their dreams and follow the opportunities – wherever they may be geographically.  We know this first hand, as we are regularly conducting international searches for employers based not only in places like Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and the UK, but also locations such as  Vietnam, China, Malaysia, and South Korea, which are increasingly being viewed as exciting opportunities by many people.

Ultimately, the era where overseas job assignments are considered a rarity, or even a far-fetched idea, has come to an end. Today, just as switching jobs regularly has less stigma associated with it, relocating to a new country is an increasingly realistic option, providing people with an exciting range of career and lifestyle opportunities.

As a business looking to fill their skills gap with overseas talent, note that the decision to relocate is never an easy one. In order to ensure that you’re hiring right, it is vital to sharpen your ability to recruit and retain by understanding the complexities of the decision – going beyond just considering whether an individual simply matches the qualifications of a given job description.

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