Global mobility poses threat to employers

Jun 26 2008 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Employers across the world are growing increasingly worried that talented staff are prepared to relocate far from home – and even move abroad permanently - to further their careers.

Two large-scale global surveys by employment services firm. Manpower have revealed a growing mobility on the part of skilled staff, with almost four out of 10 (37 percent) of workers saying they would be willing to relocate anywhere in the world for a better career.

Overall, nearly eight out of 10 (78 percent) of those surveyed, most of whom have professional skills or qualifications, said they would consider moving within their national borders or abroad if it meant a better job, with four out of 10 happy to move permanently.

The relocation survey, which gathered responses from more than 31,000 people in 27 global labour markets, was conducted in parallel with a workforce survey of employers that revealed substantial concern about this workforce mobility.

The second survey of 28,000 employers worldwide found that almost a third – some 31 percent - are concerned about talent leaving not just to competitors within their own markets, but to competitors abroad.

And employers have good reason to be worried. The more educated a worker is, the more willing they are to relocate. Almost two-thirds (62 percent) of those with a high-school education are willing to move, while three out of 10 (28 percent) have actually done so.

Among those with an undergraduate degree, nearly nine out of 10 (85 percent) would relocate for professional reasons and nearly half (47 percent) have done so.

And in terms of age, respondents under 30 years old were more receptive to moving for work than their older colleagues.

While better pay and career advancement are both powerful motivators for relocating, the opportunity to experience a different culture and learn another language is also important, cited by half of those surveyed.

"More people are living and working away from their home countries than at any other point in history - about three percent of the world's population," said Jeffrey A. Joerres, chairman and CEO of Manpower.

"These are not the one-way migrations of yesteryear. Talent goes where talent is needed, and we are truly becoming a global, borderless workforce."

According to Manpower, workers from the Philippines (96 percent), Ireland (93 percent), and Brazil (93 percent) were the most likely to consider relocating for employment opportunities.

Globally, the United States is the most popular destination that people would want to relocate to, followed by Great Britain, Spain, Canada, and Australia.

But these preferred destinations depend on the region in which respondents live. The US was the preferred destination of those in the Americas; China was the big lure in Asia Pacific, while the UK was the target of those living in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.

On the flip side, China, the United States and India were the top three sources of foreign talent for employers.

Peruvian, Argentinean and South African employers emerged as those most worried about talent outflow, while employers in Switzerland and Japan are the least concerned.