I see it expanding every day…
- Engineering teams sent to implement a project on the other side of the world.
- A medical student from a developing country applying for residency after graduation to ensure a higher quality of life for herself and her family.
- A multinational company offering a rising star employee the chance for an overseas assignment to gain key experience
- Governments trying to either slow their “brain drain” effect or recruit talented foreign workers
Never before in the history of the world have so many people decided to live and work outside of their country of origin. This means that talented professionals can move to where the best jobs are. But at the same time, there’s a trend to search the world for the best talent and then employ locally – essentially moving the job to the talent. A quick view of heavy-hitting multinational, IBM’s career website shows this in full view. IBM and many of its peers are opening up to the wider talent pool by offering extraordinary numbers of remote-based positions.
It’s challenging to get worldwide numbers on immigration. But here’s an example: In the U.S. alone, immigration has reached 41.3 million people representing over 13% of U.S. residents. [source] On a global level, the Economist reports the highest countries in 2014 losing talent aka the “Brain Drain” to immigration were:
2) Bulgaria, Serbia & Venezuela
5) Moldova & Yemen
9) Haiti & Kyrgyzstan
11) Algeria, Lebanon, Mauritania & Ukraine
15) Chad & Slovakia
Those doing best at keeping their talent home?
1) Switzerland & Qatar
3) United States
4) Finland & Norway
7) Hong Kong
9) Germany & Malaysia
11) Luxembourg & United Kingdom
13) Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Netherlands and Sweden
All of this comes back to one basic question:
How do we come out on the winning side of this war for global talent?
I’m going to break it down to three levels: country, company and individual.
Examples to follow: If you want to win the war for global talent, first focus on your own citizenry. What will they need to compete with the world’s best minds? They’ll need a strong education foundation.
They’ll also need infrastructure like broadband, transportation and other foundations upon which to build new companies as entrepreneurs. Speaking of which, the 24 highest-rated countries for entrepreneurial activity – none of them are on the brain drain list. That’s no coincidence, especially some of their neighboring countries are hemorrhaging talent. Cultivating entrepreneurship can engage many smart homegrown talent. For the record, the U.S. doesn’t crack the top entrepreneurial activity list either.
Examples to avoid: One of the worst mistakes to make is restricting smart, talented people from immigrating to your country. The United States, for instance, is a university destination for thousands of bright talent from around the globe. But instead of trying to engage those graduates to stay on and take jobs (or create startups) in our country, we often promote their return to their home countries. Australia and Canada are not making that mistake.
Examples to follow: In the past few years smaller, agile companies can access talent from anywhere just like their larger competitors. Free communication and low-cost collaboration tools make virtual teams a common fixture in business.
Now SMEs can take it a step further and hire employees regardless of national boundaries. There is a new service called GEO – Global Employment Outsourcing that allows a service provider to be a company’s Employer of Record in country. This means that you pay to have your employee hired in Finland and that employee is paid in local currency, complies with all local employment laws and practices, and is billed back to you. It’s a game changer because it doesn’t require having a local subsidiary set up in Finland.
Examples to avoid: Those company leaders who assume that the best talent is locally grown will lose the global talent war. Xenophobia and closed market options tend to lead to a more limited geographic market too.
Examples to follow: To be a part of the global talent pool, you just need to keep options open. Nowadays you can search job listing sites for remote-based positions and jobs on the other side of the world. Jobs that directly involve trade and global markets tend to on average 10% more than jobs that are domestic only. And experience with international roles can pave the way to career advancement. We live in exciting times and you can be a part of it (if you’re not already).
Examples to avoid: If you want to work on the sidelines of the war for global talent, don’t update your skills to match what international employers need. Don’t network and for gosh sakes don’t learn any cross-cultural skills or languages.
We live in times of great global changes. Countries, companies and individual workers all have choices to embrace the shifts in world economic dynamics or resist them. I hope you’ll choose to see this as a tremendous opportunity for all!
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