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Number of executives willing to move abroad doubles during global recession

More than a third (35%), of those in the survey, would be willing to work abroad compared to 16%  five years ago, and 40% of global professionals now believe that there are no barriers to moving abroad.

As in previous years, English-speaking countries and cities remained the top choice for candidates, but while the US led the list of preferred countries. London was selected over New York as the top choice for relocation. 

The research also showed that the qualifications of those choosing to work abroad have shifted considerably over the last five years, with fewer executives having MBAs or other post graduate qualifications. The change has impacted the relative levels of those moving abroad with many more being in the professional or employee position rather than director or senior manager position.

Key findings:

&middot         Over the last five years, the percentage of people who would be willing to work abroad has risen dramatically, more than doubling from 16% to 35%.

&middot         The desire to work abroad reflects a radical shift in perceptions by global professionals as 40% of those working abroad said there were no barriers to moving abroad, compared to 2010 when all those surveyed felt there were some barriers to moving abroad to work.

&middot         London tops the tables in terms of cities to work in with twice as many respondents or 14% choosing the UK’s capital as their city to relocate to over New York, favoured by 7%.

&middot         The US remained the most favoured country with the UK fast closing the gap.

&middot         Only 18% said they found their job abroad through an advert, compared to 30% in 2010, a reflection of the increasing role played by global recruitment firms.

&middot         The mix of people working abroad has also changed as only 17% of people working abroad in 2014 have a professional qualification over and above a degree compared to 30% in 2010, highlighting that global mobility is no longer confined to an elite group of globe-trotting professionals.

&middot         There has been an increasing recognition that working abroad adds to executive career prospects with a quarter of those questioned in 2014 saying that international work experience had improved their career prospects compared to 17% in 2010.

&middot         The experience of working abroad also appears to have improved significantly over the five year period with close to half (48%) of those surveyed saying they were likely to move on to a new country rather than return home – this figure compares to 38% five years ago.

&middot         24% of those abroad said that insufficient job opportunities were a barrier to relocating, compared to 44% in 2010.

&middot         Families are no longer an obstacle to relocation, with only 24% per cent this time citing family reasons as an impediment to relocation compared to 40% per cent five years ago, a drop of 16 per cent.

&middot         Nearly three quarters of respondents (71%) in 2014 said their employer valued international experience, compared to 63% in 2010.

&middot         98% of people, now and in 2010, would recommend working abroad to others.

Tim Smeaton, Hydrogen Group CEO, said: “The findings of this report, which track five years of global workforce patterns show that we now have a worldwide talent pool to draw candidates from. Geographic and cultural boundaries as an impediment to hiring have dropped away during the recession as candidates and companies alike have come to understand that they need to consider a global market. As we emerge from the recession, the war for global talent will only intensify and clients will need to think clearly about how they will attract the best talent.”

Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor for Business and Enterprise said: “London is the commercial capital of the world and a magnet for top talent from all sectors who want to come here and contribute to our economic dynamism. We have the time zone, the language and the vibe that attracts a remarkable critical mass of talent. With a spectacular array of theatres and museums, together with a vast range of other cultural and sporting attractions it is no wonder that more executives are choosing to relocate to London than any other city in the world.”

The report was compiled with help from European business school ESCP and is based on interviews with 2,444 individuals, spanning a wide range of industries from across nearly 100 countries. 

Access the report here.

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