International companies send increasing numbers of employees overseas

Published:  26 May at 6 PM
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New research has revealed the growing trend amongst international companies of sending employees on overseas assignments.

The study, initiated by ECA International, covered the past 20 years’ history of overseas assignments, showing that at present there are more expats working abroad than at any time in the past. Over 50 per cent of the companies taking part in the study reported increased year-on-year numbers of relocations to overseas branches.

Interestingly, the statistics of increases in overseas postings didn’t change much during times of economic shock. Neither the 1998 Asian financial crisis, nor the post-9/11 downturn and the 2008 global recession had longer-term effects on overseas assignments. Although expat numbers slowed slightly, significant increases soon followed and the upward trend continued.

One significant change over the 20 years surveyed occurred within the expat demographic in that, earlier, most expats were Western, male and aged between 35 and 50. Nowadays, expats working in foreign lands are as likely to be Asians working in the West, and more women are joining the rush to work overseas, now taking on over 12 per cent of the total expat assignments.

In the 21st century, expat diversity isn’t just between two contrasting continents as international companies now send employees of many nationalities overseas, depending on the specific needs of each foreign branch. Over 50 per cent of companies taking part in the survey stated they manage expat employees from at least six different countries.

Many previous surveys involving expats themselves tend to concentrate on lifestyle and the cost of housing, healthcare and schooling. However, the most important information sourced from such studies seems to be that employees on overseas assignments see it as offering a great chance to broaden their experience and knowledge, thus boosting the chances of a more successful career back in the home country. An added bonus for many is the chance to save money whilst overseas, thus making it easier to get on the housing ladder at home once the assignment ends.
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