Covid-19 has completely re-drawn the very definition of workforce mobility. Restrictions and uncertainty have created a new barrier when it comes to work relocations – with cross-border travelling is perceived as not being safe in general. The emergence of nationalistic policies and tighter immigration regulations are enhanced across key economies. In this scene, virtual working becomes the new norm. People do not need to relocate abroad to find work, as they can do so remotely.
With some countries still strictly restricting foreigners to enter their areas, willingness to move abroad has also been on the decline. According to JobStreet’s report on Decoding Global Talent, there was a 6.8 percent decline from 2018 to 2020. The pandemic also reshaped which destinations people find attractive when they considered moving abroad.
The findings of JobStreet’s report are based on a survey of almost 209,000 people in 190 countries to find out if, and under what circumstances, people would move to a foreign country for work. The survey is the third on global workforce trends produced by consultant management firm BCG and recruitment alliance The Network following studies in 2014 and 2018.
For the first time in 8 years, the U.S. is not among the most desired destinations. It is replaced by Canada as the most popular country for foreign workers to relocate to in 2021, followed very closely by Australia. These countries are also English speaking but are perceived as safer, the report said. Canada and Australia are also believed to have better social systems, better managed COVID, and more welcoming to immigrants (especially Canada).
For Asia regions, Singapore, Japan, and New Zealand have grown in popularity likely due to their management of Covid-19. Japan climbed from 10th place to be the sixth most desirable country to work and live, followed by Singapore in eighth place and New Zealand in tenth place.
The most striking shift in the survey was the fall of the U.S. from the top spot. Hurt by an inconsistent pandemic response, the adoption of more nationalistic policies and social unrest, the U.S. has fallen to second in the rankings, behind Canada and basically in a tie with Australia, the author explained. Although Canada is the world’s current premier work destination, no Canadian cities are in the top 10. Canada’s highest-ranked city is Toronto, which ranked 14th in the survey.
Asians and middle easter cities are the top destinations, ranked by percentage of respondents willing to move to each city. Several EU destinations, including Germany, Spain, Italy, and France have lost their appeal, but London is the most desired city to move for work.
Furthermore, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Tokyo, and Singapore are much higher ranked in 2018. Dubai and Abu Dhabi ranked in the top five most desirable cities to move for work. Dubai climbed to third place from sixth in 2018, following London and Amsterdam. At the same time, Abu Dhabi rose to fifth place behind Berlin.
Singapore and New Zealand rose to the top 10 rankings, underscoring how Asia-Pacific countries have done a better job of continuing the pandemic. The survey emphasised that New Zealand has been a model of effective coronavirus management almost since the pandemic began and has other appealing characteristics.
In terms of cities, London is the most frequently mentioned as a work destination in the world. The fame and reach of the British Commonwealth help London overcome geopolitical uncertainties, for example, Brexit that has dogged the United Kingdom as a whole in recent years. Meanwhile, Amsterdam and Berlin in the top five have a dynamic startup scene and are seen as hubs of innovation.
While the overall individuals who are willing to relocate decline, a mass shift to remote working, allowing people to work for a company abroad without having to relocate. 57 percent of the survey respondents mentioned they are willing to work remotely for a foreign employer – compared to 50 percent who are interested in physical mobility.
Mexico becomes the most wanted country to work remotely with 84 percent of individuals willing to work with an employer from Mexico. The second most desired country to work remotely is Brazil, followed by Benin, Zambia, and Ivory Coast respectively. These countries are selected based on either GDP or working population.
However, there are regional differences between respondents who want remote employment. The author stated people from Africa, Latin America, and CEE are more open to working remotely; whereas those from the Middle East and Western Economies have less desire to do so. When looking at the most attractive countries for remote employment, the US moves back to the top, followed closely by Australia, Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Singapore is in the ninth rank after Switzerland.