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Number of expats to go up 50% over next decade: PwC

The rise of emerging markets, increased focus on new revenue streams, and changing demographic imperatives are likely to increase the number of people working outside their home countries by 50% over the next decade, says PwC

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), one of the world's largest professional services firms, said that the globally-connected nature of trade, technology, capital, and regulation will necessitate a significant swell in the movement of employees between countries, leading to increased use of short-term and 'commuter' international assignments.

“As the world economy recovers from the recession, organisations will once again have to address the war for talent. While global mobility is an obvious solution especially for transnational companies, cost and regulatory pressures as well as the need for new skills in the post-recession era will pose challenges to human resources (HR). Innovative and cost-effective solutions and training in cross-cultural sensitivity and behaviours will be the key to success,” said Sankar Ramamurthy, India leader (people and change practice), PwC.

In a report titled 'Talent mobility 2020: The next generation of international assignments', PwC said as many world populations age, birth rates in most mature economies are trending downward and even countries like China and India are grappling with critical talent shortages.

These factors—coupled with the rise of emerging markets, increased focus on new revenue streams, and changing demographic imperatives—are projected to increase the number of people working outside their home country by 50% over the next decade. 

The report is based on trend data regarding international assignments for 900 companies, population data and the opinions of both CEOs and workers around the globe. The report reveals that 93% of Indians belonging to a demographic group called the ‘Millennials’ (new generation workers who will make up the significant majority of all international assignments by 2020), are ready to work outside their home country during their career.

The report said that another significant trend that is being witnessed is when international assignees cross the border, work with their assigned teams, and return to their native countries with the knowledge and experience to train colleagues back home.

Highly skilled and ambitious talent from China and India stand out—they have typically focused on Western education and living and working outside their home countries, on the assumption that opportunities for them and their families would be better in the West.

But with China and India increasingly playing more significant roles in the global economy, high numbers of employees are returning home to exploit emerging opportunities with their new-found skills in their countries of origin.

These returning nationals typically command better remuneration than their local counterparts, so HR professionals need to be prepared to manage the career and remuneration expectations of these ‘East-West-East’ pioneers, the report from PwC added.

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