European employees are keen to take on international roles, according to research from ADP.
The poll of 10,000 working adults found that almost three-quarters (74%) of Europeans would consider other countries for career opportunities. Germany (21%), the United Kingdom (15%), and France (12%) topped the list of the most desirable destinations to work in, while North America came much further down the list in 12th place.
However, the UK workforce’s interest in working abroad fell far below the average, with just 58% open to the option. This made the UK the least interested European country in international assignments, followed by France at 54%.
Significantly, there was also a clear difference of opinion between genders in the UK, with 33% of men and 50% of women saying they would not consider working abroad.
In the UK Northern Ireland was the region with the most appetite for working abroad, with 91% of the population open to the possibility. This was followed by London at 77%, and Wales and Yorkshire tied at 58%. However, only 45% of those in the North East would consider working abroad.
David Collings, professor of human resource management at Dublin City University Business School and expert in global mobility, told HR magazine those living in capital cities were more likely to be willing to relocate, adding that in Northern Ireland almost a third of the population is clustered around Belfast.
"We know that one of the factors that influences one's willingness to relocate abroad is one's exposure to and awareness of cultural differences," he said. "Capital cities tend to be culturally richer, and the individuals living in them tend to have much more exposure to different cultural values."
Of the UK respondents that did express an interest in working abroad, 13% saw Spain as the most attractive option, 12% chose France, and 11% were interested in Germany. Only 8% of Britons would consider working in North America, and 4% would be interested in Asia Pacific.
Jeff Phipps, managing director at ADP UK, said it is evident that Europeans have an appetite for international work. “With the war for talent and broadening skills gaps being key challenges across the continent, it is essential businesses and governments work to ensure a more international workforce can be accommodated and its benefits understood and appreciated by the endemic population,” he said.
“Encouraging cross-border movement of talent, while employing people from diverse backgrounds, is crucial for ensuring global competitiveness by accessing critical skills. Integrating that diversity into the workforce is important and can, if done well, form an additional means of stimulating engagement.”
Collings added that "living and working abroad can be a significant opportunity for individual growth and development".
"The growth that happens through broadening one's horizons, learning the skills to interact in different cultural environments, and the resilience that can come from finding one's way when abroad are all hugely valuable," he said.