Despite Covid, global mobility gets easier

International travel restrictions resulting from the pandemic are no longer hampering the opportunities for global talent mobility to most of the nations popular with expats, a new study has found.

concept image showing a networked world
A report in the Harvard Business Review says that, in fact, it has rarely been easier for skilled talent to relocate to many places abroad, according to an analysis carried out by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).BCG analysed the relative ease of global relocation for skilled talent to the world’s ten most popular destination countries plus China and Japan."They found that with two exceptions - the US and China - many countries have now put the legal framework in place to hire and relocate global talent at a cost and speed that is broadly comparable with hiring domestically," said the report.

Visas to attract top global talent

The study found that, overall, increasing numbers of companies were building globally diverse teams because research has shown these teams tend to drive firm-level and, ultimately, country-level innovation."Germany is now considering a points-based visa system to attract skilled talent. France has introduced a new visa for entrepreneurs. Although it’s not widely known, Japan offers a visa category aimed mainly but not exclusively at tech talent," said BCG."Even in post-Brexit UK, a points-based skilled worker visa remains a core pillar of the country’s talent strategy. Australia’s Covid-19 restrictions today make mobility challenging, but this is expected to be a transitory phenomenon."

US and China the exception to the global visa trend for skilled workers

The BCG analysis, 'Innovation Without Borders', found the US and China were the exceptions to the global trend, mainly because of America's "hard caps" on its high skills, H1B visa route, and because of China's pandemic lockdowns plus the new tax regime on expats that Beijing introduced this month.
Related reading from Relocate Global
Meanwhile, BCG found that "Western countries are surging ahead" with France, Germany, and Spain now among the countries most open to skilled talent, putting their immigration systems on a par with Canada's straightforward, points-based visa scheme."The race for skilled talent is now global. Even India and Japan, countries not traditionally known for their openness, are actively trying to attract foreign talent and make it easier for their firms to hire globally," BCG found."Access to talent has become the number one growth constraint for firms accelerating out of the Covid-19 crisis. Besides this pull factor, important push factors remain in place: there is now more global talent; talent remains willing to move; and remote work is so far not slowing down global mobility."

2020s: a decade of more global talent mobility?

The analysis suggested the talent pool would grow considerably over the next decade with more than 260 million university graduates set to hit global labour markets."As a result, we would not be surprised to see the 2020s be a decade of more talent moving globally particularly to European and Asian countries (outside of China)," said the authors of the study."The data gives some early hints of that possibility: in 2019, annual inflows hit new highs in 20 out of 25 OECD countries — but not in the United States. During Covid-19, work-visa-based migration certainly dropped in many countries, but it also tended to be more stable than any other visa category and, at least in Europe, has strongly rebounded since, approaching pre-pandemic levels."BCG said that it had recently conducted a survey of 850 senior executives and found that 95% said they intended to build teams that were more globally diverse."The front runners use the diversity of their global teams as a catalyst for innovation. This translates into performance: they are more than twice as likely to be innovative and fast growing than their more homogenous peers," concluded BCG.

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

Subscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory

Related Articles