Latest Global Mobility Trends by Porapak Apichodilok

Over recent years I have talked about several megatrends and globally impactful changes in this blog: Brexit and Trump are shaking the geopolitical landscape and spreading protectionist tendencies; automation changes the world of work; the migration crisis and climate change stand as ongoing global issues; Europe foresees challenges of an aging population, while Chinese citizens seem to seize the largest portion of global workforcemobility…

How does all of this impact global markets and the global workforce?

To answer the question, Boston consulting group has recently surveyed 366,000 workforce respondents in 197 countries asking about people’s job preferences and attitudes toward mobility. Here, I summarize some of the highlights:

  • People are not that eager to relocate abroad anymore

Compared to data from four years ago, the survey indicates a 7% decline in the desire to work abroad (from 64% in 2014, to 57% in 2018). This dip in the overall willingness to relocate may be the logical consequence of increased protectionist moods and changed migration policies that we are witnessing in Europe and the US. In other words, as countries become less welcoming, there are less ‘pull’ factors for migration. On the other hand, there are possibly also less ‘push’ factors for leaving one’s country, as continuous globalization of business and technology might bring good jobs closer to home.

Despite this overall decline in mobility, some countries are also seeing an increase in the desire to work abroad. Specifically, US, UK and German workers indicate a substantial increase in their willingness to relocate abroad. I would suggest that the same factors that decrease the ‘pull’ towards these countries, namely political changes in the US and UK or the migrant crisis in Germany, simultaneously serve as ‘push’ factors for their citizens, who consider relocation.

Populous nations such as Brazil, India and most of African countries also stand out, with more than 70% of people ready to look for better jobs abroad.

By contrast, Chinese residents are significantly less inclined to move abroad than four years ago. This probably means that for Chinese citizens there are increasingly more opportunities back home, which aligns well with accounts of Chinese leadership in industrial innovation, clean energy and digital economy, for instance.

  • The US remains the most attractive country, London the most attractive city

Although people seem to be generally less mobile, the preferences of people still considering relocations remain quite similar to four years ago. Apart from Mexican citizens, who have probably taken Trump’s unfriendly rhetoric to heart, the majority views the US as the most attractive destination. Due to Brexit the UK has lost its position as the second most-popular work destination, replaced by Germany, as the 2018 report shows. Compared to the previous data, Australia improved its ranking from 7thposition in 2014 to 4thin 2018. Canada continues to have the third highest appeal overall.

The top five city priority ranking indicates that in spite of changing international policies in many countries, some cities stick to their brand of global hubs and cultural melting pots. London (1st) and New York (2nd) have steadily occupied the top priorities overall, with Berlin, Barcelona and Amsterdam taking the third, fourth and fifth places in the list, respectively.

  • The average profile of an eager job migrant remains familiar

Finally, the report indicates that the ‘average Joe’ of a mobile workforce doesn’t come as a surprise – of younger age, single, with no children, and male seem to be the factors that correlate most strongly with willingness to relocate. Also, job hunters in technology and digital development are more willing to relocate than blue-collar or manual workers.

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