Global Talent on the Move: The Most Attractive Countries to Work in

The landscape of global talent mobility is continually changing, impacted by a wide range of factors including economic opportunity, quality of life, and openness of countries to international workers. In 2024, several countries and cities have emerged as attractive destinations for professionals looking for new possibilities overseas. This article delves into the findings of a recent report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), The StepStone Group, and The Network, titled “Decoding Global Talent 2024: Dream Destinations and Mobility Trends,” revealing the top destinations attracting the world’s most talented individuals in 2024.

Mirthe Van Brussel on May 02, 2024 Average reading time: 6 min
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Global Talent on the Move: The Most Attractive Countries to Work in

The report, based on a survey of over 150,000 professionals across 188 countries, reveals a fascinating trend: a significant 63% of respondents expressed openness to relocating for work opportunities. This highlights the growing mobility of the global workforce, with individuals increasingly willing to chase exciting prospects beyond their home borders.

So, where are these ambitious professionals setting their sights? The answer might surprise you.

Australia Takes the Crown

Australia’s ascent as the most preferred destination to work in, isn’t entirely unexpected, given its remarkable advance in recent years. From a modest seventh place in 2014, Australia steadily climbed the ranks, securing fourth place in 2018 and third place in 2020, before finally claiming the top spot in 2023, surpassing Canada. Renowned for its booming economy and professional opportunities, Australia’s appeal is further enhanced by its relaxed lifestyle, and welcoming stance toward legal immigrants, albeit with a strict stance against illegal immigration. This unique blend of economic prosperity and quality of life renders Australia exceedingly attractive to skilled professionals worldwide.

The enduring dominance of countries like the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Germany as preferred destinations for international workers underscores the importance of preference in the war for talent. This suggests an (unspoken) rivalry, with each nation striving to bolster its attractiveness by leveraging its distinct strengths and offerings. These leading destinations distinguish themselves through a myriad of factors, including robust job markets, economic prosperity, high quality of life, favorable immigration policies, and vibrant cultural landscapes.

Germany is losing ground in preferences

The latest research suggest that Germany is facing difficulties in being preferred for skilled foreign talent, especially when compared to its OECD counterparts. The OECD’s Indicators of Talent Attractiveness” study reveals a declining trend. Germany has fallen from 12th place in 2019 to 15th place in 2023 among 38 OECD nations in terms of its appeal to talented migrants. Notably, Germany only manages to secure a spot in the top 10 for drawing international students, failing to achieve similar success in attracting other crucial categories such as highly skilled professionals, entrepreneurs, and startup founders. Hibernian Recruitment, OECD, 2019, Deutsche Welle, 2023. Also in the BCG research, Germany is losing ground, being number 2 in 2018 and in number 5 in 2023. Besides the German need of foreign workers, there are some reasons for Germany’s Declining Attractiveness, like:

  •         Bureaucratic Hurdles and Language Barriers: Germany’s bureaucratic complexities and limited availability of English-language services pose significant obstacles for foreign workers trying to navigate the system and integrate into society. Euractiv, 2023 , Deutsche Welle, 2023.
  •         Cost of Living and Family-related Challenges: The country’s high cost of living, coupled with difficulties in bringing family members, act as deterrents for potential migrants seeking opportunities in Germany. Deutsche Welle, 2023.
  •         Short-Term Stays: Many foreign workers opt for short-term stays in Germany, often leaving after a few years instead of settling for the long haul, contributing to the nation’s struggle in retaining talent. Euractiv, 2023.
English-Speaking Dominance Persists

In the top 10 most preferred countries are the biggest countries and fast-growing economies in the world missing, like India and China. Singapore is the only Asian country in the top 10. This dominance of English-speaking countries -besides India- can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, the prevalence of English as a global language of business makes relocating to these countries less challenging from a communication standpoint. Secondly, these established economies offer a multitude of career options across various industries, catering to a diverse range of skill sets. And thirdly, English is the dominant language for an international career. The effect of non-English can also be seen in the declining preference of Germany.

London still the most popular city to work and live

While Australia takes the top spot for countries, London remains the undisputed king among cities. This global metropolis continues to attract professionals with its unparalleled access to international businesses, cultural diversity, and vibrant energy. Amsterdam stands in second place as the most popular city, follower by Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Having Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the top 4, even above New York looks like a shift in time and momentum. The Asian countries, besides Singapore, are not that preferred yet, and the cities are gaining popularity. But the ‘old popular cities’ also remain popular, when we look at New York winning back 3 places.

Asia’s Rise is in cities and counties

The “Decoding Global Talent 2024” report paints a shift in the landscape of preferred destinations for international workers. The rise of the East – Asian powerhouses, like Singapore, Aby Dhabi, Dubai, Tokyo, and Japan. The report highlights a growing interest in these countries driven by two key factors;  Booming Economies which is offering a wealth of career opportunities and competitive salaries. This attracts ambitious professionals seeking to advance their careers on the global stage. And Cutting-Edge Industries. The cities and countries are at the forefront of technological innovation, for example, Singapore is a hub for FinTech and artificial intelligence, while Japan is renowned for its advancements in robotics, automation, and high-speed technology. This environment attracts a specific talent pool – those seeking to be at the heart of groundbreaking developments and contribute to shaping the future.

The report suggests a few additional reasons why these innovation hubs might be particularly attractive, because of Government Support, Tech-Savvy Infrastructure, and Multicultural Appeal.

What drives the destination choice?

In understanding the dynamics of global workforce mobility, understanding the reasons behind professionals’ choices of destination countries is crucial. This analysis involves examining both extrinsic and intrinsic factors that influence these decisions, as well as evaluating the alignment. The report reveals that individuals primarily select destination countries based on the quality of job opportunities available. This finding underscores the significance of economic and career prospects in driving international relocation decisions. According to the report’s rankings, the quality of job opportunities emerges as the primary consideration for professionals contemplating a move abroad. This aspect holds particular weight, with individuals prioritizing destinations where their skills are valued and where they can secure stable employment. Countries like Australia, the United States, Canada, and Germany shine in this regard, offering robust job markets and promising career trajectories for incoming talent.

Additionally, while economic factors take precedence, other extrinsic considerations such as quality of life and income also wield significant influence over relocation preferences. Notably, Australia stands out for its exceptional balance of economic prosperity and high living standards, making it an appealing choice for professionals seeking both financial security and a desirable lifestyle. Furthermore, factors like safety, stability, and inclusiveness, while deemed secondary by many, remain pivotal in shaping destination choices. Countries like Canada, known for its welcoming environment and commitment to diversity, excel in providing a sense of security and inclusivity for relocating individuals.

In essence, while career-related aspects dominate the decision-making process, professionals also weigh the overall quality of life and the social environment offered by potential destinations. This balanced approach ensures that individuals prioritize destinations that not only offer promising job opportunities but also provide a supportive and enriching environment for personal and professional growth.

Intrinsic Factors: Language and Recommendations

Beyond external factors, intrinsic considerations such as language proficiency and personal recommendations significantly influence destination choices. Speaking the primary language of the destination country and receiving endorsements from acquaintances familiar with the locale are important factors driving international relocation decisions. According to the report’s rankings, language proficiency emerges as a top consideration for professionals seeking opportunities abroad. Furthermore, personal recommendations and endorsements play a significant role in influencing destination choices, with professionals valuing insights from individuals with firsthand experience of living and working in a particular country. Countries with strong networks of expatriates and supportive communities, such as Australia, Canada, and Germany, benefit from positive word-of-mouth referrals, fostering a sense of trust and familiarity among prospective migrants.

While factors like geographical proximity and passport ease are deemed less influential in the decision-making process, the importance of cultural affinity and language familiarity cannot be overstated. Countries like Canada and Australia, known for their multicultural societies and inclusive policies, offer welcoming environments that resonate with professionals seeking a sense of belonging and cultural compatibility.

More information: Download the report: by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), The StepStone Group, and The Network. For more in-depth analyses about international mobility, talent pools, etc. contact Intelligence Group



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