We are all aware that the labour market is becoming increasingly demanding, and companies require employees with a very specific set of skills capable of contributing to the growth of such organizations. For some time now, however, workers themselves are the ones who are also becoming, in pursuit of their own professional development and sense of self-fulfilment —while reaching a proficient level of expertise—, increasingly selective about the companies they want to work for. Hence, many of them choose to travel to a foreign country as a way to enhance their professional skills.
Nevertheless, even with the greatest demand in history regarding international labour mobility taking place during 2017, companies still have a long way to go when it comes to their workers’ talent development abroad. Professionals who opt for working outside their country are, in many cases, the ones responsible for showing the organization they work for to the world; consequently, reaching their full professional potential and their well-being will eventually result in a positive impact overall. The challenge, then, is to keep those talented individuals aboard.

United States, the favourite destination

United States is still the favourite destination for those professionals seeking new career opportunities, followed by Canada, United Kingdom and Australia, according to “Perceptions of Employee Mobility in a Climate of Change”, a survey conducted by the international consultant BDO.
The fact that English is the official language in those countries makes the decision of moving towards a more prosperous professional direction a much easier one, although factors such as geography, culture and business practices can also exert a significant influence.
The US stands out for its corporate culture and the business opportunities it provides, as well as for its economic activity, human and social environment, and talent protection policies. Hence the great interest shown by professionals to relocate there.
According to the “World Talent Ranking 2017” conducted by IMD business school, Switzerland, Denmark and Belgium are the ideal destinations for those choosing to work abroad, since they share three common features: a high-quality educational system, a good living standard for its citizens and great opportunities for career development. Other countries in the ranking include Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Norway, Austria, Luxembourg and Hong Kong. All these countries have a strong commitment to investments, educational development policies, an ability to recruit foreign talent, and a clever way to adapt people´s expertise to the needs of their respective economies.
Likewise, Asian countries are also an attractive destination for talented professionals choosing to work outside their homeland. They’re safe, affordable places, with a great standard of life. Among all of them, Singapore is worth mentioning: an intensive economy regarding innovation and talent that, in just a decade, gave birth to more than 30 000 start-ups and folded its GDP by 200, according to the ranking “Venture Capital and Private Equity Country Attractiveness Index” elaborated by IESE and EmLyon business schools. Meanwhile, African countries are starting to bring forward attractive trends for foreign professionals, whereas the UAE is still one of the destinations on the rise.

Developing countries, promising future

The American consultancy company Towers Watson, in their “Global Talent 2021” report, claims that “talent seems to be running out, at least in western countries, so companies will have to headhunt in other markets”. And emerging countries are, precisely, the ones capable of providing the labour market with the qualified professional profiles that will be in demand in the future. India, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, Colombia and Morocco will be some of the countries training the most skilled workers, superseding Japan, United States, United Kingdom and France, among others.
According to that report, by 2021, 60% of talent hired by companies in the most developed countries will come from these emerging markets, thus fostering an international environment in organizations by providing them with a wider and richer vision of the world, while collaborating on the development of new skills and technologies abroad.
Regarding Spain, according to the majority of recent surveys, there’s still great room for improvement in terms of competitiveness and talent development. In fact, with an eye to 2021, it won’t be either a talent-exporting country or one of the most aging in need of recruiting young and promising foreign professionals, which sets the Iberian country on an intermediate position in all referenced charts.


On a global scale, the predominant profile of an employee willing to relocate is one of an unmarried, childless, aged 35 or younger individual. But despite the international trend, according to the aforementioned survey by BDO, Spanish professionals going abroad are aged 38, speak three languages, 60% of them relocate with their spouses, and for a period of 2-3 years on average,
Also, according to the report by Towers Watson, some of the basic qualities companies look for in these new talents involve being digitally savvy, capable of adapting to multiple and changing scenarios, creative in group environments and particularly collaborative during brainstorming sessions,. In addition, they should be adaptive, proactive and capable of developing negotiation and innovation skills.
In fact, well-positioned individuals in terms of technical abilities or “hard skills” (advanced analytics, automation, artificial intelligence or cyber-security) are in great demand, although companies are increasingly requiring attitudinal abilities or “soft skills” (customer-centered, passion for learning, collaboration capabilities or ambiguity management).
As for candidates opting for travelling abroad as a way to enhance their career, according to the consultancy firm Michael Page, they are required to provide expertise, great language skills, customer-oriented attitude, good communicative competence, self-reliance and decision-making capability.

Demand from STEM sectors

With reference to present and future, the most demanding sectors are the ones under the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) umbrella, in other words, disciplines which are considered to be fundamental for technologically advanced societies. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018 there will be nearly 1.2 million jobs in STEM-related fields just in the United States. And although those profiles are currently all the rage, there’s still plenty of positions to be filled. Hence, the most demanded profiles are those regarding Big Data management, Digital Marketing, cyber-security experts, software developers, systems analysts, web and app designers or 3D animators. Also, engineers, scientific and technological researchers, and those profiles related to energy and natural resources are currently in high demand.
Certainly, the possibilities for professionals seem infinite outside their home country, but everything must be properly planned in advance before reaching a new destination, so that the experience results in a complete success. Thus, both the employee and the company will achieve their objectives in the most satisfactory manner.

Sources: BDO, IMD, IESE, EmLyon, Tower Watson, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Michael Page

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