Mika Launikari


Benefits of international labour mobility?

Published on and modified on Permalink

For my PhD research on international mobility capital I conducted individual thematic interviews with experts at three European Union agencies (Cedefop, European Training Foundation & Eurofound) in 2015. Further, as part of the PhD data collection I also arranged three focus groups with staff members of these institutions.


Campaign to promote labour mobility

The assignment given to the focus groups was to create an imaginary campaign to promote the benefits that international labour mobility can generate on an individual level. All three groups were to follow the instructions below:

“Imagine that you together with the other group members work for an international advertising agency. Today you have the first brainstorming session about a client project that you are designing for a globally operating television channel.

The aim is to launch a large-scale high-visibility campaign for raising awareness of international career opportunities and global labour mobility among the general audience (i.e. TV spectators). The campaign ads will be shown on the TV during prime-time family viewing programmes.

Now you as a team should come up with and agree on at least three benefits that international career mobility can generate to an individual. Further, you should create a catchy slogan or an attractive title for your advertising campaign. Your output should be a slogan that highlights the essence of what it means to be working in an international and multicultural context.”

Any smart slogans?

The small groups had only 30 minutes for accomplishing the task above. Once the groups were ready to deliver their results, they reported them to the Director of the television channel (=being me). The assignment proved to be quite a challenge actually … almost a mission impossible as it turned out, but still many valid aspects came out from the brainstorming sessions.

The group 1 was the only one to propose a short slogan “MOVE – Don’t stay home!”. The two other groups were struggling more with the slogan and were not able to formulate their key messages that neatly. “Tired of your local cuisine? Take a grand tour! Moving is learning! Leave your footprints! Stop dreaming: LIVE IT!” was the multi-faceted proposal made by the group 2.

The group 3 was not quite able to reach a consensus on the slogan and thus they created several: “World is a wonderful and diversified place – Experience it through working abroad!”. Another one was “Go everywhere!” which did not specifically grasp the issue at hand as the phrasing was overly general. “Working abroad – The best way to boost your career!” or alternatively “Your preferred rocket towards your success!” were listed by the group 3 as well.

Any concrete benefits?

For all the three groups it was evident that multiple benefits can be derived from international labour mobility. In summary, the views of the groups can be categorized as follows:

  • Broaden your horizons – working abroad means that you will (have to) open up your mind and discover yourself from a fresh angle. As you meet new people, you are often exposed to different worldviews and opinions, which may make you run a reality check every now and then, for example “What do I actually think of this? How do I relate to this myself?”. All in all, when you broaden your perspectives, you usually create new opportunities for yourself and others alike.   

  • Improve the quality of your life –  often there are material level benefits when you work abroad. You can be better paid than back home and have much richer employment opportunities around you in the international labour market.  Depending on your country of origin, moving abroad may also mean that you can have an easier access to better services in terms of schooling, child- and healthcare.

  • Develop yourself professionally – One of the groups formulated career development abroad as “export, develop and import your skills”. This slogan applies well to people, who work abroad for some years and then with newly acquired skills return to their own countries again. At the same time, though, there are well-educated individuals who emigrate for better pay or living conditions and stay abroad on a permanent basis and maybe never ever go back to their places of origin anymore (brain drain).  

Photo: www.expat-advisors.com

See also Top expat destinations of 2015 (atlasandboots.com)