Australia third most desired destination for expatriate workers

12 April 2021 4 min. read
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Australia has landed at number three worldwide as the destination of choice for international workers according to a global mobility survey conducted by management consulting firm BCG, yet overall people are less inclined to relocate for employment.

Australia has become the third most popular international destination for the world’s talent according to Boston Consulting Group, moving past Germany over the past two years to sit alongside the US and behind only Canada. In its third global workforce mobility survey since 2014, BCG canvassed more than 200,000 people in 190 countries to gain insight into current sentiments on working abroad, with Covid-19 having a serious impact on results.

While Australia has risen four spots in the space of six years as a desired destination for foreign workers, willingness in general to relocate overseas for employment has plummeted over that time, dropping from a shade under two thirds of survey participants in 2014 to barely a half last year. A sharp rise in nationalism and the global pandemic are given as two primary factors for the shifting views, and the latter has undoubtedly contributed to the attractiveness of Australia.

Canada replaces the US as the top destination

“Restrictive immigration policies have already weakened the mobility trend,” said Rainer Strack, BCG senior partner and a co-author of the study (which was performed in collaboration with online recruitment alliance The Network). “Covid-19 is a new variable that is making people cautious about considering international relocation. And with the rise of remote working, many workers may feel that they can further their careers virtually, without needing to move at all.”

The impact of the global pandemic can be evidenced by Canada upstaging the US in the popularity stakes for the first time, and more broadly by a number of other, in particular Asia-Pacific nations with limited Covid-19 caseloads such as Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand and Singapore also shooting up the ranks – the latter two nations making their debut entries in the top ten. On the flip-side, Spain and Italy have dropped out, while France has fallen.

Working remotely

Yet, while pandemic and lifestyle considerations have certainly played a part in determining popularity, when questioned on working remotely in an international setting, the survey respondents voted Australia even higher, with the country leapfrogging Canada into second place behind the US as a preferred employer base.

Higher covid caseload? Your appeal is probably falling

New Zealand however drops out of the top ten. This is of particular note given the broader workforce trends toward distance working accelerated by Covid-19.

Altogether, 57 percent of survey participants expressed a willingness to work remotely for an international company that has no physical presence in their country of residence, but these figures jumped when it came to digital and analytics professionals or those in IT and tech, at 71 percent and 67 percent respectively. Australia ranked third worldwide among the digital segment, with BCG noting that workers with digital expertise are among those prized by other countries.

Elsewhere though, Australia was marginally less popular with especially valued talent, falling to fourth in the country-rankings among the highly educated (master’s holders and above) and younger segments (under 30), while coming in at second for less educated workers and first among those over 60. Interestingly, outside of the Asia Pacific where it ranks first, Australia was the second-most popular destination for North American respondents – with the US failing to make the top ten.

Meanwhile, contrary to Australia’s rise in the overall rankings since 2014, Sydney as a desirable city in which to live and work continues to slide, falling six places in that time to tenth. While sky-rocketing rental costs are one likely factor, other expensive locations for housing such as Amsterdam have bolted up the charts, which suggests that Sydney’s controversial lock-out laws – introduced in 2014 – may have played a part in diminishing interest among international talent.