Strongly Polluted Countries – A Hunting Ground For International Talent

For almost 1 out of 6 Chinese and 1 of 11 Hongkongers, (air) pollution and other health risks are one of the most important reasons to aim for an international career and to move abroad. That makes (air) pollution one of the strongest upcoming arguments with huge impact on international mobility. For 9,9% of the global workforce that is willing to work abroad, this is a motive to work internationally. This finding arises from The Global Talent Acquisition Monitor 2014 executed by Intelligence Group in 45 of the most important recruiting countries in the world.

Health Effects of Pollution

The dangers of un-measurably high levels of pollution in cities like Shanghai and Beijing are well known around the world, with pictures of the 2014 Beijing Marathon runners participating in masks and cityscapes unrecognizable behind clouds of pollution becoming synonymous with these cities.
polliutionThis is not a great marketing tool for a city or country looking for top global talent. It gets even worse: for global talent personal health, working environment and smart cities are becoming more important reasons to choose an international destination. Looking at Chinese talent, pollution is of increasing importance among reasons to leave China. In numbers: 15,2% percent of Chinese talent who are willing to work abroad mentioned health risks in their home country as one of the most important reasons for leaving. This means that, on a global scale, China is by far the country where pollution has the highest impact on international mobility, followed by Hong Kong (11,2%). India is ranked third with strongly polluted cities like Delhi. It is the pollution and the impact on health, quality of food and quality of life that mobilizes talent to less polluted places like Latvia, New Zealand, Portugal, Chile and Australia. Download the complete ranking of (air) pollution as reason to leave of 45 countries Ranking polluted countries as reason to leave_Intelligence Group_2015

Global Top-5 pollution as ‘leave’ reason                          Lowest 5 with pollution as ‘leave’ reason

China                                     15,1%                                                       Latvia                                    0,1%
Hong Kong                           11,2%                                                       New Zealand                       0,6%
India                                      8,1%                                                         Portugal                                0,8%
Vietnam                                8,0%                                                         Chile                                      1,0%
Thailand                               7,2%                                                         Australia                               1,1%
The countries with the largest talent pools in the world, China and India, also have the largest talent group of potential leavers due to pollution. 102,300,000 Chinese and 26,200,000 Indians mention (air) pollution and heath risks as one of the main reasons to look for a job abroad. Looking more closely at the huge numbers, we see that especially students see health risks as a reason to leave. Additionally,  more than 50% of those wishing to leave have backgrounds in Engineering, IT, or management.

                                                            China                                                 India

Student                                                   34 million                                             12 million
Engineer                                                 28%                                                        23%
IT                                                             20%                                                        14%
Management Executive                      14%                                                         16%
When we look at the numbers we see a new generation of highly educated workers who are more likely to move due to pollution. Within these populations of talent possess globally sought out skills in Engineering, IT or managerial experience.  In other words: in the global war for talent, polluted areas of Asia are becoming more and more interesting hunting ground for international recruitment, especially for countries with clean air 😉

Profiling as a durable, healthy and smart city

Amsterdam, the capital of The Netherlands, has developed an active policy on international profiling and attracting international talent. Even though Amsterdam is still in her early days of global profiling, the city already released a couple of very smart initiatives. Next to innovative ideas like a non-primary-native-Dutch-speaking jobboard, an employer map, and city marketing with Iamsterdam, Amsterdam is profiling itself as a ‘smart city’. This is expressed by high scores on recyclable waste and low scores on air pollution, but also by good environment for innovative start-ups and a high education level. Another good example is London where cars are being more and more banished from the city center and bicycles are actively promoted. There is no doubt in my mind that in global recruitment, polluted cities are an ideal hunting ground for top talent, especially if you can promote your city, country and workplace as ‘healthy’, ‘smart’  and ‘green’.

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2 Responses to “Strongly Polluted Countries – A Hunting Ground For International Talent”

  1. Kevin Wheeler

    Interesting article that points out a sourcing strategy I would not have thought of.

  2. Kevin Wheeler

    Interesting article that points out a sourcing strategy I would not have thought of.


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