Expat Focus International News Update March 2018

Male expats enjoy better career rewards after an overseas assignment

The career development of male expats is accelerated after spending time overseas, a survey reveals. The AXA World of Work report reveals that 51% of male expats say their career benefited from the move, whereas just 39% of women said so.Also, 43% of male expats said their stints overseas led to them becoming regional experts and helped to increase their professional value to their current and future employers. Just 36% of women agreed with this verdict.

The chief executive of AXA Global Healthcare, Tom Wilkinson, said that while expats choose an international assignment for a range of reasons, some want to relocate to help develop their career while others want to experience life. He added: “Whatever the reasons they have, I encourage anyone who is living abroad to embrace the opportunities; lifestyle and work alike.”

The survey also highlights that men are more focused on their career prospects, whereas women who undertake international assignments do so with a possibility of pursuing an adventure and enjoying new working opportunities.

Once their overseas assignment had been completed, 37% of women said they had decided to permanently move to another country to make it their home, while just 23% of men said they would do the same. Also, 56% of women said they would like to continue working in the country where they are based currently, with just 47% of men agreeing.

Singapore top city for expats in Asia

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Expats in Asia have ranked Singapore as their favourite city, according to a survey. ECA International’s 2018 liveability report says that expats living there enjoy good quality healthcare and schools, low pollution levels and low crime rates compared to other cities in Asia.

Hong Kong continues to fail to impress: five years ago it was ranked in 11th spot but it has since fallen to 29th place. A spokesman for ECA said: “Hong Kong finds itself once again outside the top 25 cities for expats and has failed to see any improvement on its placing from last year. It suffers from long-term pollution and air quality issues.”

The rankings are updated annually and take into account a range of factors to indicate the quality of living for expats including housing, health services, enjoying a social network and leisure facilities.

However, the largest drop was seen by Beijing which fell from 10th place last year to 134th this year. The spokesman added: “With few exceptions, cities in China saw a fall in its scores for expats which is due to increasing Internet censorship as well as worsening pollution in some Chinese locations.”

The top 10 best cities for expats highlighted by ECA International are Singapore, followed by the Australian cities of Brisbane, Adelaide and Sydney, with Osaka in Japan taking fifth place. Perth is in sixth position jointly with the Japanese cities of Nagoya and Tokyo, with Wellington in New Zealand in ninth spot and Australia’s Canberra in 10th place.

ECA International’s Asia director Lee Quane says that managers responsible for relocating expats need to take precautionary measures when sending employees to polluted cities such as Hong Kong, Bangkok and New Delhi. He said that most expat employees are not willing to sacrifice their health in exchange for working overseas particularly if they are relocating with their children.

Quane says that mobility managers need to know when, where and why pollution happens and they can then advise their staff on the risks they might be taking and any precautions they can take to avoid any issues.

Where expat women enjoy the best career prospects

For expat women looking for better career prospects, the best countries have been ranked. The study from InterNations puts Mexico at the top of the list, followed by Myanmar, Cambodia and Bahrain.

The top 10 also sees New Zealand, Kazakhstan, the UK, the US, Canada and Ireland offering good prospects. The findings come from 7,000 female expats who are living in 168 countries.

Their findings reveal that 31% of expats are aged between 31 and 40, and of the top five female expat nationalities are US, UK, Germany,France and India.

The top five countries where expat women are living currently are Germany, US, UK, Spain and Switzerland. The survey also highlights that female expats are overrepresented in countries such as Ireland, where 78% of expats are female, as well as Greece and Italy where 77% of expats are female. The findings also highlight that for women the most popular reason for moving overseas is to follow their partner’s job.

In a separate survey, the organisation has also highlighted the best international cities for expats to live and work in while overseas. The list is dominated by Denmark, followed by Portugal and Singapore, with Mexico and Canada making up the remainder of the top five destinations.

No plans to extend Saudisation

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Civil Service has ruled out any plans to increase the kingdom’s Saudisation process in the near term. Suleiman Al-Hamdan told one newspaper that the project will create 28,000 jobs by 2020 after replacing expat employees with Saudi citizens. Most of those jobs are held by expats in health and higher education. The Minister also highlighted that the two ministries will find it a difficult process to deliver enough qualified Saudis to replace expats in that timescale.

Meanwhile, Saudi’s business community is looking for expat levy amendments for those employers with five or fewer employees to be exempt from paying. The Council of Saudi Chambers says that growing numbers of businesspeople are asking for an exemption and an extension of the timeline for payment increases to be extended to 2025. They also want micro, small and medium-size firms to be exempt from the tax for longer.

Expats in Kuwait’s public sector fear contract termination

Kuwait has announced that all expat employees in the Health Ministry who are aged over 65 have had their contracts terminated. However, expat doctors over the age of 65 will be allowed to continue working until their current contract expires. The health minister says it is possible for expats to be rehired but their medical specialities must be needed and their last two annual reports must be rated as ‘excellent’.

Media outlets are reporting that expats working for the government in Kuwait will need double clearance to obtain a visa to leave and then work in the private sector. They will need permission from their government employer as well as security approval before taking up any new job, under new rules unveiled for the private sector.

Their announcement followed one from the Ministry of Education which has now started the process of handing termination letters to hundreds of expat teachers and other employees over the coming weeks.

Oman announces expat replacement plan

The Ministry of Manpower in Oman has asked employers to replace expat employees with locals. The government has already announced that it will create 25,000 new jobs for its nationals between December last year and the middle of this year in a bid to reduce unemployment levels.

Oman is currently enduring its worst jobs crisis for 40 years and there are around 60,000 Omanis, most of them graduates, looking for work. In addition, local media reports that after 10 years of growth, the number of expat workers in the country is now steadily declining.

The National Centre for Statistical Information says that in the last 10 months, expat numbers have fallen by 21,000.

The situation for expats there is likely to worsen since the Ministry of Manpower announced in January that 10 sectors, covering 87 professions, will see a six-month ban being imposed on the hiring of expat workers.

Also, the Ministry of Manpower has made clear that it will suspend the work permits for employers who are found in violation of the country’s labour law. Essentially, this means that the government will terminate expat work permits if their employer does not hire enough Omani citizens.

In other news…

Expats from Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada are being targeted under a new scheme to attract them back to their homelands. The regional government has unveiled four expat outreach events to be staged in Canada and the UK and they are carrying out an online survey to ask why expats left and help identify the conditions under which they would return.

Fewer expat doctors are looking to work in the US, says healthcare recruitment firm Medicus. They say that fears over the current administration’s ‘unwelcome immigration policies’ may be to blame and the number of trained doctors looking to work there has fallen to its lowest level in seven years.

Two out of three expats who live in the United Arab Emirates say they would like to make the Gulf country their permanent home, a survey has revealed. The financial firm Friends Provident International found that 44% of expats said the earnings potential attracted them to the UAE in the first place and 33% said their personal financial priority was to save money to create a business.

Plans by the British government to allow expats to vote in general elections have been revealed. The rule, which bans overseas citizens from voting if they have lived overseas for 15 years or more, is likely to be binned. Campaigners have welcomed the move which could lead to an extra 1.5 million people voting in general elections.

Expats who live in Thailand and enjoy a game of darts have seen the popular game being banned across the country. Despite the confusion, the country’s National Darts Association said that a law from 1935 bans the playing of darts. The law also bans pool, bingo, snooker and other popular games. In order to play darts, players must now apply for a permit from the National Association.

The five friendliest countries for expats have been revealed by the World Economic Forum. Ireland tops the list, followed by New Zealand and then Iceland and Austria. Portugal takes the fifth spot. The WEF looked at countries in terms of friendliness; the least friendly locations for expats include Bolivia, Venezuela, Russia, Kuwait and Latvia.

A handbook that simplifies the complex Arabic legal law in the United Arab Emirates has been launched for expats. The 243-page book also gives an overview of Sharia law and explains the Dubai court system.

An analysis of Google’s search data has revealed that the most searched for British fashion brand in the world is Asos, which is proving popular with buyers in France, Australia, Germany and the US. However, British expats are missing home-grown goods when living overseas and 75% of them said they would pay extra to get their goods shipped to them. For these expats, clothing from brands such as Burberry, Asos, Next and Topshop are the most popular choices, says distribution firm Whistl.

There are fears that the tightening of immigration laws in New Zealand will see fewer international students moving there. The government says it is looking to crack down on international students who are ‘migration motivated’ and are seeking an easy path to residency. However, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment says the move could cost the economy $261 million (£135m/$188m) every year. They say that up to 10,000 fewer students from around the world will head to New Zealand every year.


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