January 14 2010 - International workers are still good for
business and the economy, according to a recent survey conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit on behalf of
Western Union. The Economic Intelligence Unit obtained responses from 501 executives at leading global businesses, of which
139 executives were from the Asia Pacific region.
Despite media reports of increased protectionism and nationalistic sentiment around the world due to the global
recession, the survey found that Asia Pacific (74%) business leaders and their global (76%) counterparts
overwhelmingly believe that international workers have a positive impact on the economy. 70% of Asia Pacific
(71% globally) respondents said that foreign employees provide their businesses with competitive advantages.
Currently, according to the United Nations Development Programme, the international mobile workforce includes more than
200 million people.
In fact, business executives want fewer, rather than greater greater barriers to migration with
some businesses publicly advocating that governments should relax immigration laws. 28% of respondents in the Asia
Pacific region (27% globally) said that regulations made it difficult to hire a sufficient number of international
employees. 37% in the Asia Pacific region and 39% globally cited limited quotas and visas as one of the most significant
challenges. 27% in Asia Pacific and 30% globally said the process takes too long.
Patrician Riingen, Senior Vice President, Pacific & Indochina, The Western Union Company said:
"While economic insecurity is putting politicians under pressure to protect jobs for locals, it is
clear that business leaders still see an open economy with economic migration as essential to drive the recovery."
57% of respondents indicated that the present global economic recession will not change their
recruitment practices toward foreign employees. Indeed some (11%) said the recession had made them more likely to hire foreign
Calls for relaxed immigration are muted given local sensitivities with only
22% of Asia Pacific respondents having asked, or plan to ask, governments for more open immigration
employment laws. Globally, only 15% of executives said the same and very few have done so under .
their own company name.
"As well as enabling development at home, the 'mobile workforce' provides key skills to employers in
a host country or region. Serving the world's mobile workforce is one of our company's core competencies," Riingen added.
Other significant survey findings include:
Benefits of/need for international workers
- 79% of Asia Pacific and 81% global business leaders believe that international employees enhance the skills and
talent of their workforce.
- Over a third (34% in Asia Pacific and 41% globally) said they hired international workers because it made
- Of the few respondents that do not have international employees
(16% in Asia Pacific and 13% globally), over 36% of those in the Asia Pacific region and 33% globally plan to do so
in the future.
- 30% of Asia Pacific respondents (25% globally) expect an increase in the percentage of migrant
workers employed by their organizations by the end of 2010.
On employing international workers by function
- Nearly half (48%) of international employees they hired were skilled, with only 9% being described as 'low-skilled'.
- 79% of respondents globally said they hired international workers because they had the skills to fill
specific staffing needs, particularly senior management, information technology, and sales and marketing.
- But only 20% of respondents across all industries said they were dependent on employing international workers.
Securing and integrating international employees
- 47.5% of Asia Pacific (48% global) respondents said they recruited international workers directly,
while 37.4% of Asia Pacific and 35% global employers used third-party recruiters.
- 25% of Asia Pacific and 21% global businesses sponsored international workers on temporary work
contracts while 14% of Asia Pacific and 15% global employers supported international workers in seeking
permanent residency in their host countries.
- Cultural and language barriers were significantly more of an obstacle for Asia Pacific companies (58%)
than for businesses globally (46%).
- 22% of Asia Pacific and 18% of all global employers offered employee orientation and training in multiple languages;
30% in Asia Pacific (25% globally) offered language training; 16% in Asia Pacific (11% globally)
targeted health care information to foreign employees; 33% in Asia Pacific (27% globally) respected
cultural holidays for all employees.