British managers who are serious about making it to the top can help themselves by notching up some international experience along the way, according to new research.
Research from the Recruitment Confidence Index (RCI) has found that more than four out of 10 employers have increased their international recruitment over the past five years. Almost one in five say the number of staff leaving to work abroad has increased over the past five years.
One in five firms also say it is important or very important that their senior managers spend time overseas.
"Long-term assignments, short-term assignments and international commuting are all on the increase," said Dr Michael Dickmann, Director of the Centre for Research into the Management of Expatriation at Cranfield School of Management.
"And for most employers, the benefits of these working arrangements clearly outweigh the costs.
"It's not just globalisation that is driving increased mobility among top managers, although that is a major factor. The explosion of knowledge and learning, and the desire to develop leaders for the future are also encouraging firms to expatriate and repatriate skills."
The research shows that firms are not looking for international experience for the sake of it. Mostly they are seeking technical skills, language ability and market knowledge.
More than three-quarters of employers recruiting abroad said the availability of technical skills was significant in their decision to hire overseas. Six out of 10 cited language skills and half cited knowledge of overseas markets.
Reducing labour costs was only significant to one in five employers.
Search and selection firm Torres and Partners has seen its overseas work grow four fold over the past five years, largely as a result of client demand.
Director Alison Diamond said: "The idea that UK managers don't travel well isn't true. We have many client firms who come to us to plug skills gaps that are the result of UK managers taking their talent overseas.
"UK managers have qualities that are admired in many quarters; we are a cosmopolitan country and extremely aware and understanding of different cultures, which is a huge advantage. In addition, the UK is a sophisticated marketplace in many commercial sectors.
"We can sometimes fail to appreciate this, but our experience and expertise as business leaders and entrepreneurs is something that is admired and translates well in a global market."