Complex Made Simple

The Tale of Two Cities: These twin ME cities attract top global talent

People’s willingness to move abroad for work has fallen in the last few years, weakening one of the solutions that countries and companies use to address their workforce problems.

Overall, workers continue to be more focused on intrinsic workplace rewards, such as those provided by good interpersonal office relationships, than on compensation.

According to a study ‘Decoding Global Talent 2018’ by BCG and The Network, 57% percent of all workers now say they would move to another country for work, a decline of almost 7 percentage points since 2014.


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The decreased enthusiasm for emigrating is one of the more striking findings of the study, which involved 366,000 workers and 6,000 recruiters in 197 countries and took place against a backdrop of heightened debate over immigration and trade in many countries.

For instance, even though the US is still the world’s most popular work destination overall, it is now less attractive—amid the volatility of its national politics—to people in Mexico and to those in a dozen other countries where it was previously the number-one choice.

Dynamics That Drive the Rankings

Germany’s rise to the number-two spot comes at a time when other European countries—notably the UK and Switzerland—have themselves become more cautious about immigration.


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This has cast Germany, with its relative openness, in a more favorable light and boosted it over its European rivals in the rankings.

Germany is now three places ahead of the UK, five places ahead of France, six places ahead of Switzerland, and seven places ahead of Italy.

London tops the ranking, with 22% of respondents willing to move to the city for work, followed by New York (16%). Berlin comes third (15%) — showing the preference for well-known cities of the West. But cities in other regions are starting to attract notice, the survey shows.


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For instance, Dubai (the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates) is now a top ten city work destination, ranking 6th in the world’s top 10 cities attracting talent, with 12% of respondents willing to move to the city for work.

Abu Dhabi has also moved sharply up the rankings too, ranking 14th. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the only two Middle Eastern cities among world’s 30 most attractive cities for global workforce.

Hong Kong is another non-Western city whose popularity increased in the last four years.