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Appetite for international work opportunities soars across Europe

Jeff Phipps
travel

European employees have a strong appetite for international work, as almost three quarters (74 percent) would consider other countries for career opportunities, according to research by ADP. Comment from Jeff Phipps, Managing Director – ADP UK.

The new study of nearly 10,000 working adults across Europe considers how employees feel about the future of work, international competitiveness and talent management. The survey was conducted in July 2016, after the UK referendum vote to leave the EU. Germany (21 percent), United Kingdom (15 percent) and France (12 percent) top the list of the most desirable destinations to work in, whilst North America surprisingly comes much further down the list in 12th place. 

What makes the top countries so appealing?
Despite their popularity, Germany, the UK and France aren’t particularly strong in any of the areas measured in the survey, such as skills and development, flexible working options and stress in the workplace. In fact, according to the research, employees could have a more balanced life and interesting opportunities in countries that don’t currently rank at the top. Instead, pre-existing perceptions of the country, economic stability, distance from home country, and language skills seem to be more likely to affect preferences. It is also likely that the UK referendum vote impacted the area considered most attractive to work. The UK was pushed into second place by Germany despite the arguably comparable, if not better, opportunities in the UK, and English being the more widely spoken language compared with German. 

UK employees least interested in working abroad
Despite the overwhelming interest in international opportunities, a quarter of employees (26 percent) would never consider working abroad. This increases to a staggering 42 percent for UK employees, second only to French employees (46 percent). Significantly, there is also a clear difference of opinion between genders in the UK, with 33 percent of men and half of all women (50 percent) saying they would not consider working abroad. The results also demonstrate an expected trend, with younger workers being more likely to work abroad. As many as 87 percent of 16-24 year olds are interested in pursuing career opportunities abroad, as opposed to 56 percent of over 55s.

We see major differences in the desire to work abroad across UK regions. Workers from Northern Ireland are the most likely to seek international work (91 percent), followed by Londoners (77 percent), whilst over half (55 percent) of those from the North East aren’t interested in it at all. Jeff Phipps, Managing Director at ADP UK, says “It is evident that Europeans have an appetite for international work. With the war for talent and broadening skills gaps being key challenges across the continent, it is essential businesses and governments work to ensure a more international workforce can be accommodated and its benefits understood and appreciated by the endemic population. Encouraging cross-border movement of talent, whilst employing people from diverse backgrounds, is crucial for ensuring global competitiveness by accessing critical skills. Integrating that diversity into the workforce is important and can, if done well, form an additional means of stimulating engagement.”

List of countries in order

  • Germany
  • United Kingdom
  • France
  • Switzerland
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Spain
  • Norway
  • Netherlands
  • Italy
  • Sweden
  • North America
  • Ireland
  • Denmark
  • Luxembourg
  • Finland
  • Portugal
  • Russia
  • Asia Pacific
  • Iceland