Is Working Abroad the Answer?

By Ian McCartney | Small Business

The ever-migrating workforce

For large numbers of modern folk, it seems that working abroad is indeed the answer. The amount of people heading overseas long term may be a minority of the population as a whole but it is still a significant amount.

This is especially so when you consider historical expatriation figures (and demographics) with those of the present day. The expat of yesteryear was likely to be in quite a high position career-wise, and more often than not, their expat assignment would have been sponsored by the company they worked for.

These days, people who work abroad are a much more diverse bunch. In part, this is down to things like the free movement of workers around the EU. Indeed, it’s been reported that approximately the same amount of British people emigrated to the EU as emigrated to the UK from the EU during the same period of time.

Outside of the EU, other continuing factors affecting the UK’s expat numbers include:

  • The emergence of Dubai as a thriving expat centre (whose population is more than three quarters non-Emirati by nationality)
  • The continued growth of economies such as that of China
  • Big business (and not so big business) looking beyond international borders to diversify geographically  and strengthen new markets
  • Hope of superior work/life balance abroad, according to a recent survey

Challenges for the employee in another country

The benefits of working abroad have been reported on pretty widely, so there’s no need to go into them in any great detail here, but it’s worth highlighting the main plus factors

  • Career advancement (having worked abroad is widely regarded as a CV enhancer)
  • Simple experience – having an international adventure adds to the individual’s sense of achievement
  • Remuneration – due to exchange rates or skills shortages within certain occupations, a spell abroad may prove lucrative

And the challenges? Well, people who adventure off abroad are a pretty hardy bunch of souls in general – confident, worldly, and ready for the ups and downs.

But this doesn’t mean that seasoned expats are psychologically indestructible. In fact, those of who who live or have lived overseas are just like anyone else – prone to the stresses and strains that life brings. Surveys have shown that the risks for a handful of psychological conditions may even be slightly higher for those who live abroad.

All of which makes perfect sense, really. After all, if you’re physically separated by land and sea from your family and many of your friends, the chances are that there may be times you miss having a support network. The good news is that the expat experience is a road often travelled, and there are dedicated counseling services available for those who require them. It’s also a relief to find that many of your experiences of living overseas (like the sometimes overwhelming culture shock) are extremely common.

This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: Is Working Abroad the Answer?

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