Winds of Change: The Forces that Drive Millennials to Seek Work Abroad

Winds of Change: The Forces that Drive Millennials to Seek Work Abroad – International migration was once considered a last resort in the search for a stable career – job seekers would have to exhaust all other options before considering a life abroad. However, with the advancement of mobile technology, the increasing ease with which people communicate across time zones and borders, and improvements in global transportation, more and more millennials readily accept a job overseas.

That said, relocation opportunities and viability will vary immensely from one country to the next. Those millennials who seek to transition from a Western nation to a developing country and vice versa often face the greatest challenge. But that doesn’t mean such a move is impossible – in fact, it may even be the most rewarding. This white paper will discuss the factors that drive millennials to seek employment abroad and outline the challenges and pay- offs for those who undergo a transition from a third-world country to a developed nation, and the contrary.

The Wanderlust Generation

In many respects millennials are now leading the way for international relocation; a PwC survey of millennials from various nations found that 71 percent would like to work somewhere outside their home country. There are several reasons for this:

  • There are simply more of them. In the United States, for instance, people born between 1980 and 2000 make up one-third of the total population according to a report from the U.S. Council of Economic Advisors. That makes millennials the largest generation in the U.S. And as many have recently entered, are now entering, or will soon enter the workforce, the heightened competition for jobs has compelled some to examine their options abroad.
  • Fifteen percent of people aged 20 to 34 were born in a foreign country, which would arguably make them more open to working in another nation. Additionally, as the most diverse generation in the U.S., millennials appear to be comfortable working in culturally, ethnically, or racially diverse settings.
    • Because most millennials grew up with mobile and smart technology, they are accustomed to using it and many actually prefer it – the PwC survey found that 75 percent believe technology makes them more effective at their jobs. This technology is also a great tool for finding work abroad and adapting to life in a new setting, so millennials have fewer logistical obstacles to making such a transition.
    • As a generation that values personal growth and work-life balance over monetary gain, international relocation has a certain appeal for millennials. They can justify taking a financially risky move to work overseas by the experience they will gain, challenges they will overcome, and relationships they will build.

    Despite these conditions, working and living abroad can still be complicated. All expats share certain hurdles, like language barriers, visa requirements, communication with friends and family back home, and securing work in the first place. However, those who move from a Western country to a developing one (or vice versa) must learn to cope with additional burdens.

    For Western Millennials, a Broader Perspective Drives Personal Growth

    On the surface, it may seem counterintuitive for a millennial born, raised, and educated in a wealthy, Westernized nation like the U.S. or the U.K. to leave those comforts and seek employment in a poor, developing country. As noted, however, millennials consider personal growth and unique experiences to be at least as valuable as financial

    compensation. By traveling to a third-world nation for work, these individuals expect to broaden their understanding

    of the world and leverage their new knowledge for better positions down the line. Millennials also understand, perhaps better than older generations, that international work experience can be a significant plus on a resume. In the PwC survey, over 50 percent said they would work in a developing if it were to further their career.