Forecasts of increased international movement among staff highlight the need for language training

A recent report predicts a 50% increase in the number of staff relocating abroad for work – what are the implications of this?

A recent report issued by the global giant Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) predicts that the number of people working abroad will increase by 50% over the next decade. The report, ‘Talent mobility 2020: The next generation of international assignments’, a compilation of data sourced from 900 companies, shows that international assignments by staff have already increased by 25% over the last decade, a trend that is set to double over the next ten years.

What are the factors behind this and what are the implications for the future?

Statistics like this are not to be ignored as they have a significant impact on work practice across the globe. Brought about in part by the rise of emerging markets, the ease of foreign travel, changing demographic needs and companies searching for new revenue streams, the globalisation that we are witnessing will see many more thousands of employees leaving their home country for foreign soil – and even the number of locations to which they are re-locating is increasing, as companies explore lesser developed locations.

The implications of such large global movement cannot fail to have implications. Businesses, for a start, are likely to need to evolve their international work models so that they can efficiently manage the relocation of high numbers of staff between countries. Tax systems and immigration laws can present immediate obstacles, and further down the line investment into local infrastructure can become be a factor, especially in lesser developed countries – both to help employees live and work comfortably and also to maintain a synergic relationship with the host country.

One bonus that businesses may however see is a lesser need to offer financial incentive to staff to work overseas. Not only is it seen as good business sense to have staff employed in the places where they are needed, it also appears that these staff – especially younger workers – are eager to work a stint abroad. The report quotes that, of 4,200 graduates, 94% expect to work more internationally than their parents and 80% actually want to work abroad as part of their own personal development.

Of particular interest to Cactus is the news that 70% of these graduates expect to use a non-native language at work. If relocation abroad is to be fluid and of benefit to all parties concerned, investment in language training cannot be overlooked. Indeed, a recent article in Re:locate magazine ( cites language and cultural training – along with home search and spousal support – as ‘examples of policy elements that provide untold value and [which] can make or break an assignment’. Rather than be considered as luxury extras, support services such as this should be given priority when it comes to aiding a staff member to settle in a foreign country. Committing the cost early on could prevent further cost from a failed relocation down the line.

Cactus Language Training offers all types of language and cultural training for relocation and other purposes. Specialising in tailor-made language training for businesses and individual needs, training is available in many different formats and in languages and locations across the globe.