Few APAC Professionals Changing Jobs, but Those Ready to Relocate Prefer North America

Half of all mid- to senior managers and professionals working in greater China and Singapore would relocate to North America for a promotion or to gain international exposure. However, except for those now working in Taiwan, a majority of the 4,500+ respondents surveyed for MRIC’s annual Talent Report: Greater China & Singapore say they’re not actively looking to relocate.

Overall, the number of managers and professionals who relocated last year is down from previous surveys, according to the report, which was prepared in partnership with the market research firm Ipsos. Although the change in Taiwan was barely measurable (down 1 point from 13 percent to 12 percent in 2014), elsewhere, especially in China and Singapore, the declines were as high as 5 percentage points.

There’s also a more cautious outlook about the economic and financial outlook for 2015. Only in Singapore were a majority (60 percent) optimistic about the future. However, there, as in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, fewer respondents expressed optimism than in previous surveys, though that hasn’t translated into pessimism. The biggest percentages in those areas are neutral.

That more cautious outlook has made workers more hesitant about changing jobs. In none of the surveyed areas did a majority express a definite intention to seek a new job.

Yet half of all respondents in the survey said they’ve been approached at least three times in the last year with job opportunities and about half have applied at least once. “Recruiters’ interest is not limited to the most senior professionals,” says the report, “Middle and junior managers are approached almost as frequently.”

The active job seekers range between 13 and 23 percent of the labor market, depending on the country. Overall, observes the report, “the most active job seekers are likely to be under 30 and single. In Hong Kong, they tend to be slightly older (31-40 years old) and slightly more experienced (middle managers). They are more likely to be found in professional services.”

Of those who want to relocate, Singapore is a close second choice to North America, with 48 percent indicating a desire to work there. Europe and Shanghai are on par at 45 percent, followed by Hong Kong at 41 percent and Australia/New Zealand at 37 percent.

While all age groups would move for a promotion or the global experience, younger professionals and managers — those under 40 — are looking for a better quality of life, even if it means moving away from their extended family. Those working in China, regardless of age, rank a healthier environment third behind job promotion and global experience.

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Their first preference is North America followed by Europe and then Singapore. The only cities in China to interest them as a relocation destination were Shanghai and Hong Kong, but both have moved down the list from the 2012 survey.

“Concerns about air pollution are not limited to expatriates living in PRC, respondents born in China express similar views and they do take more and more into account the environment quality when considering mobility options. This is especially true in Beijing where respondents placed healthier environment in second position,” explains MRIC Group CEO Christine Raynaud.

However, when limited to choosing from only among cities on the mainland, Shanghai and Beijing were at the top. Those already living and working there show no greater inclination to move elsewhere in the country than they did in the 2012 survey.

“Relocating people within China remains a challenge mainly for career promotion and compensation reasons,” notes MRIC Group China Managing Director Angie Eagan.

John Zappe was the editor of TLNT.com and contributing editor of ERE.net. John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.