International expatriate: Are expatriates really getting younger

According to an article published by UK newspaper The Telegraph, the age of the average expatriate is decreasing as a result of a heightened awareness of opportunities abroad.

Using research published by global HR company ORC Worldwide, The Telegraph claims that expatriates are becoming younger and that life abroad as an expatriate is no longer a proposition for highly specialized individuals but can be an opportunity available to individuals at all levels.

According to Siobhan Cummins, executive vice president at ORC, the majority of opportunities for expatriates are available within the IT and communications sectors. She also commented that she believed that providing opportunities for younger people to gain work experience abroad offered both the individual and the employing company an advantage: “Working in a different country looks good on a young person’s CV, but it’s also beneficial for the company. Younger people have less ties to home such as family or property, and can be much more flexible, as well as providing a cheap labor option. And in a time when people tend to be less loyal to a company, offering opportunities abroad can increase the likelihood of staff wanting to stay with a company.”

ORC findings, however, appear to contradict earlier research published by Global Relocation Services firm, Brookfield. In their 2010 Global Relocation Trends survey, they revealed that the age of expatriates was increasing and that many companies were turning to older expatriates in order to fill skills shortages. Their 2010 publication noted that companies who were relocating employees both on a long and short-term basis were increasingly turning to older, more experienced members of their workforce. Their findings revealed that the percentage of expatriates aged between 40 and 49 had increased by 3% from 37% to 40% in 2009 and those aged between 50 and 59 had increased by 2% from 14% to 16%: “Most fundamentally, the expatriate population became older as companies selected more experienced employees for assignments” they said.