Dubai and Singapore have become two of the most popular work destinations for Indian talent as they provide a safe environment not too far away from home
Talent is a precious resource for organizations, more so when there is competition for qualified and skilled resources that cut across geographic boundaries. For long, the talent market has been largely dominated by country-specific demand and supply considerations for suitable candidates. With the geography-specific skill differentiation reducing as businesses globalize, organizations today are working towards building a global talent model.
From a markets perspective, the US, the UK, and Canada are still among the highest takers of talent compared to other economies. High income countries in the Gulf have also become attractive talent destinations. During the global financial crisis, the Gulf only appealed to unskilled and semi-skilled sections of the workforce. However, these geographies have once again become attractive destinations for skilled professionals from across the globe. While there is an attempt by the government in these countries to localize talent across sectors, it will be a while before companies become self-sufficient and hence even today a large percentage of employees in the Gulf continues to be expats.
Multiple parameters determine why individuals choose jobs in a particular foreign location. Other than financial motives, personal preferences such as the quality of life and proximity to home country play an important part in deciding a destination. Dubai and Singapore have become even more popular destinations for Indian talent because it provides for a safe environment to work in and is also close to home. There is often a trade-off between financial gains and the quality of work life. For example, there are countries that are considered as “hardship destinations” where financial gains are considerably higher compared to other countries though aspects such as safety, quality of education and healthcare, freedom of expression, are of lower standing. Overall, given these considerations, Dubai compared to other countries in the Gulf emerges as the most popular talent destination. For unskilled and semi-skilled workers, compensation, still plays a deciding role and therefore most economies are able to attract this talent segment by competing on pay alone.
What is undeniable is the need for organizations to source talent globally with a view of increasing their business competitiveness. However, seamless talent migration across boundaries does continue to pose challenges for several companies. This is on account of governments across the world aiming to strike the right balance between job creation locally and bringing in world-class talent from other countries. Traditionally, industries with fewer home-grown qualified professionals have relied heavily on expatriate talent. The situation accentuates when the industry witnesses sudden growth. For example, many pilots in the aviation sector in India were hired from outside the country when there was a surge in new airlines starting operations in India. The life cycle of the industry, the current and future talent needs compared with the availability of specialized skills locally determines to what extent talent needs to be imported. For a long time, senior level positions in Banking especially in multinational banks were held by expats. However, over the last decade, several senior positions that were held by expatriates are now held by local talent.
The IT industry continues to drive global economic growth and still presents the greatest need for sourcing talent globally. However, in India the IT Industry has begun benefitting from talent repatriation and has gained considerably from the return of skilled talent after completing long-term stints in other geographies. Apart from their rich experience, these professionals also bring with them the skills and knowledge learnt abroad. Similarly, the healthcare and ITeS industries are also benefiting.
Organizations need to start building talent models that are aligned with current realities of doing business and changing individual preferences. Retaining and attracting talent is not only influenced by financial growth prospects of the business but are also largely influenced by what one can expect from the country. The risk of talent outflow continues to be a real risk which needs serious attention.