A look at the trend for global workers and their employers
MGV Staff Report (Posted June 28, 2007)
Mr. Singh, Emeka and Daniel Jakes
Mr. Singh lives in India, but his employer is US-based Microsoft Corporation. Mr. Singh is a trouble-shooter for Microsoft. His job consists of helping the company’s customers solve problems connected with their use of Microsoft’s Windows operating system. Everyday, Mr. Singh fields calls from more than 100 users of MS Windows in the United States and Canada and other English-speaking countries around the globe.
Emeka, a journalist, lives in Nigeria, but the company he works for is headquartered in the United Kingdom. Everyday he is expected to file news reports for his London-based employer detailing the various news events in his country of residence.
Daniel Jakes is another journalist, a highly popular radio jock in Lagos, Nigeria for more than five years now. But Jakes is not a Nigerian; he is an American who arrived to this West African country six years ago following a stint as a salesman for a drug company in his native Detroit, Michigan. His decision to come to Nigerian was based on the recommendation of a Nigerian-born friend of his who was starting a radio station in Lagos. Jakes was not sure at first if he wanted to relocate to Nigeria. The pay wasn’t as good as he was making in the United States and there are all those horror stories about fraud and other kinds of crime rampant about Nigeria, but Jakes was persuaded by the idea of a glamorous career in radio. He had the voice, his friend persuaded him, and the fringe benefits would more than make up for the drop in pay. Five years later, Jakes is acclimatized in Nigeria and enjoying his new career as a popular radio personality in Lagos.
Singh, Emeka and Jakes are global workers — people who have either moved to a new country following a new employment or are living in their old country but answering to bosses or interacting with customers in another country. Being an international or global worker is becoming an increasingly normal trend in today’s globalizing economy. Though conditions vary, the benefits to those brave enough or skilled enough to find such opportunities and take the plunge are many. For some people, it is the adventure of foreign travel, the desire to visit and live for a while in exotic places and the need to expand one’s horizons and learn new things. For many more, the lure is the basic need for employment.
The trend for more global employment is driven by increasingly uniform standards for work and production. The companies who do the employment can maintain and in many cases improve quality while saving on costs. The pay, for example, of a programmer in India can be as much as 65 percent less than that of someone doing equivalent work in the United States, but the quality of the work they produce are the same. For the employer this translates to greater productivity, growth and strength of the company.
When the trend began to be reported in the press, around 2000 to 2003, the general impression in the United States was negative, especially as the news reports were mainly about the jobs being outsourced from the US to countries like India. Today, it is becoming increasingly evident that globalization of employment is helping strengthen the US companies involved in it, enabling them, in turn, to increase their ability to employ at home. Globalization in employment is also helping to stem the brain-drain from the Third World to the industrialized world, hitherto a common complaint from governments in Africa and Asia. More and more of the highly trained professionals of those regions are discovering that the right kind of challenges for them in their specialized skills that used to be lacking can now be found right there at home.
Trend in Global Employment
The trend in global employment is more than a one-way traffic. Many workers in the United States may believe that the trend is to their disadvantage with mostly American jobs being exported to the Third World. That may have been largely the case before and during most of the 1970’s, when most global employers were American multinationals or heavily government-subsidized European companies. Today, China, India and other emerging economies are increasingly becoming the source of the companies that are employing people on a global scale.
Global employment is not limited to the highly skilled professionals. The good news for blue collar and lower skilled workers is that not only highly trained professionals are being sought after by global employers. Regular white and blue collar workers are also in demand. Oil companies operating in such far-flung places as Nigeria and Malaysia are in need of laborers or roustabouts to work in usually dangerous off-shore rigs or, as in Nigeria, in politically troubled environments. Airline operators in Nigeria hire trained stewards and hostesses as seed for quality growth of their local staff. In China, domestic fliers are often actively recruiting foreigners as cabin attendants on their local and international routes.
Finding these jobs may not be very easy because they are mostly quickly filled through word of mouth when available. To obtain a global job outside of the lucky few with the right connections, therefore, one has to be looking for it and finding one becomes a matter of research and strategy. That is where companies like IMDiversity and similar JobBanks come in.