PwC’s new report, Talent Mobility: 2020 and Beyond, explores the growing importance of mobile talent in the near-future. After reading the 36-page report and talking with Eileen Mullaney, PwC’s U.S Global mobility consulting leader, here is what you need to know to prepare for the new demands of the mobile workforce.
- Mobile workers are becoming the new normal.
PwC predicts the demand for mobile talent—workers who can contribute to the productivity of an overseas site either via virtual meetings or short or long-term assignments—will grow steadily for the immediate future. Assignee levels increased by 25% during the last decade, and PwC predicts “a further 50% growth in mobile employees by 2020.”
- It’s a matter of supply and demand.
The demand for mobile workers will keep growing. This is due to an increasingly connected global marketplace, plus the aging workforces in many developed nations and even some emerging ones. In China, for example, one-third of the population is over the age of 50, but the annual workforce growth rate is less than 5%. In countries like these, the demand for mobile workers may well exceed the supply.
- Millennials have great expectations.
Millennials are yearning for an overseas assignment. Mullaney’s advice: Put your high-potential Millennials on the company’s fast-track for a work stint abroad. And if you don’t have early career development program in place, establish one now.
- The destinations for mobile talent are changing.
The days of the traditional overseas assignment in London, Berlin, or another desirable European city are fading. PwC expects that–due to the development of economic markets in Asia, Latin America, and elsewhere, and a shift in economic power from the Western hemisphere to the Eastern hemisphere–companies will be sending mobile employees, especially Millennials, to countries like Brazil or China, not England or Germany.
- The new marketplaces are in emerging cities.
Most of the population growth during the next three decades will occur in new urban areas in developing nations like Brazil, China, and India. One such urban destination is Wuhan, China, which is located 750 miles inland from Shanghai. Wuhan boosts a population of 10 million, and PwC reports that it’s “economy is growing at an annual rate of 12% and that GDP will double within five years.” Increasingly, companies will be sending mobile workers to new metropolises like Wuhan, or developing the local talent that already resides there.
- The definition of mobile assignments is changing.
Companies are exploring different types of options for mobile workers, including short-term assignments, commuting and extended business travel, intra-country mobility, and rotational employee programs. With all these options, many companies are radically rethinking how they deploy employees overseas.
- Partner with HR.
CIOs need to support HR in making the business case for mobile talent, using data-analytics to help identify where and when talent is needed, and to ensure the talent pipeline is well stocked. It’s a difficult task, especially for global corporations, Mullaney admits, but “the best companies are getting their arms around the problem.”
- The future might arrive sooner than you expect.
Mullaney was very surprised while she was working on the Talent Mobility report by the speed with which significant business, societal, and technological changes are occurring. While reviewing an earlier PwC report on mobile talent, Mullaney noticed that “many of the things we had previously anticipated happening in 2020 had already happened by 2015,” she says. “The pace of change is the fastest we have ever seen.”