The new leaner world of expats

The days of the pampered western male expat are seemingly over. Though the numbers of workers sent around the world are still high - against some earlier predictions - they now tend to be skilled and highly educated workers from developing countries.

by The Economist
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

These assignees or secondees (the term that replaces expat), wherever they are from, are not offered special privileges or extras. The number of expats needed is also coming under pressure as more companies prefer to train up local talent to take over as managers.

But also a new trend is emerging in which firms send their staff from developing countries such as Brazil, India and Mexico to work in their offices in the developed world.

Some new global players like the Indian technology, research and consultancy firm Wipro send a substantial number of their staff overseas to spread the culture of the company and establish its management practices. Such employees are highly motivated to be sent abroad and see it as one of the perks of the job.

Firms prefer the under-30s -- who have not yet got family commitments -- or the over-50s, who no longer have children at home. Such employees are freer and cheaper to move around.

To get over the difficulties and costs associated with moving families around the globe, companies and employees are increasingly opting for short-term commuter assignments (a banker from Vienna, for example, may spend Monday to Friday working in Dresden and then fly home at the weekend). Whilst pay packets for expats is coming down, there is also the possibility of not having a job to come back to.

Source: The Economist June 24th-30th 2006     
Special report Staffing globalisation - Travelling more lightly
Review by Morice Mendoza

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