Challenges employers face when hiring internationally and why they are worth it

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According to ILO, there are an astonishing 71 million unemployed young people all around the world. One reason behind this can be the lack of critical skills needed for a job. People have always moved in search of a job, but could youth mobility be a solution to youth unemployment? According to Youth Global Employability Report, only 26% of the respondents retain over 50% of their young international talents after the initial agreed period of time. The main reason behind retaining the trainee is their performance. Often it is in the employer’s best interest to look abroad for skills you can’t find in your home market, but what are the main difficulties employers face when hiring internationally?

Main difficulties faced by employers when hiring internationally

Hiring internationally comes with more things to think about than hiring a recent graduate from your local university. Not knowing how to reach the youth in a distant country and having long immigration processes may bring difficulties for employers and even stop them from considering hiring abroad. We wanted to find out, what are some of the main challenges employers face when hiring abroad.

The main reason for employers not to consider hiring young internationals is that they simply have not identified the need. This is followed closely by the high cost of hiring and visa constraints.

According to our findings, it is fairly challenging for employers to market their job openings abroad. The average was 5.5/10, 10 being extremely difficult and 0 being not difficult at all. In average, it takes 1-3 months from the point of opening a position until the first day of work of an international youth talent. The difficulty of marketing these opportunities abroad and visa constraints may be behind the reason why the processes take longer than an average hire. This also means that a company should define at least three months in advance that they have a need for an international talent. In the character of today’s fast-paced business world, this can bring an extra challenge for employers. On the other hand, many millennials start looking for a job only after graduation and find themselves unemployed for months before finding their first job. According to McKinsey, as many as 27% of graduates take over 6 months to find their first job. This means that millennials looking for jobs are usually ready to take on a job right away. By finding more efficient ways to market job opportunities for youth abroad, both the employers’ and the youth’s problems could be solved.

Although 29% of the respondents said they are satisfied with their current processes of hiring international youth, the majority said they fill less than 20% of their openings. Only 16% fill all of their international openings. The main reasons are that there are not enough candidates and the lack of required job skills. The difficulty of marketing these opportunities directly correlates with the number of applicants received. On the other hand, the lack of required skills is widespread and talks about the gap between education and employment. According to YouthSpeak Survey, 53% of millennials feel what they are learning now will not help them in the future. This is alarming, and the consequences can be seen by the employers in not having candidates with the right skills.

Not finding the right youth talent for open positions can be detrimental for the development of a business. 19% of Youth Global Employability Survey respondents said their talent-related costs rose more than expected due to not finding the right international youth talent in the past 12 months. Another 14% said they were not able to innovate effectively due to the same reason. In total, 80% of the respondents had experienced challenges in their company’s growth or profitability due to international youth talent constraints. As the amount of young people in the workforce grows, so does the impact that these constraints will have. This is directly linked to having the right talent attraction strategy to find the needed young professionals.

Why are companies sourcing interns from abroad?

Because youth mobility can increase the youth’s chance of being employed, we were keen to find out, what are the main reasons employers hire youth internationally. For 32% the main reason was to foster globalization and multiculturalism inside the organization. In consequence, when asked how the international young talents are shaping workplaces, the majority said that they are promoting a multicultural workplace. Multiculturalism and diverse points of view can also increase innovation, which was also one of the main benefits.

Sometimes the reason for looking abroad is that the right talent is unavailable in your local market. The most desired skills were language skills and expansions. This clearly shows the need for local knowledge when expanding abroad. However, the most international youth talents do not work in expansions, but in marketing and communications. Both of these are essential when expanding to a new territory, and require language skills. This can be a call-to action to all educators, to increase the amount of high-quality language education, as according to employers it is extremely important for young people to speak foreign languages. Many of our respondents stated that a good level of English is a must, but other languages are also seen as an advantage.

Nowadays, employers are looking more and more for the best candidates no matter their location. The digital revolution has not only helped us to run international businesses more easily, but has also broadened the possible pool of candidates. Social networks such as LinkedIn make CVs from all over the world at our fingertips in seconds. Young people are also readier to chase new experiences and aren’t afraid to take up a job across the ocean. The challenge now is to link the employers looking for international youth and the youth with the right skills.


Read more about our findings related to global employment and youth employability in the Youth Global Employability Report.

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