Sharp decline in Indians looking to work abroad, Australia still tops as preferred destination

"Australia's rise as a preferred destination underscores its appeal in terms of quality of job opportunities and lifestyle"

Australia has emerged as one of the top destinations for Indian professionals looking to work abroad, according to the latest ‘International Mobility Trends’ study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG). This report reveals significant changes in the preferences and mobility of the Indian workforce, alongside broader global trends.

Despite a general decline in the number of Indians willing to relocate internationally for work, from 78% in 2020 to 54% in 2023. Australia, along with the USA, Canada, and the UK, have become increasingly popular among those still interested in pursuing careers overseas.

Image Source: Supplied

The study, involving responses from 150,000 people across 188 countries, highlights several key factors influencing these migration trends. Economic incentives and professional development opportunities are the primary motivators, with 64% of participants citing financial reasons and 56% pointing to career advancement as their main reasons for moving abroad.

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“Australia’s rise as a preferred destination underscores its appeal in terms of quality of job opportunities and lifestyle,” said Neetu Chitkara, MD & Partner, India Lead People and Organisation Practice at BCG.

“The robust job market and high standard of living in Australia are attracting a skilled workforce from India, keen on enhancing their career prospects in a conducive environment.”

This preference for Australia is reflected globally, as the country ranks among the top four most desirable destinations worldwide, alongside the USA, Canada, and the UK. Major cities such as London and New York continue to be hotspots for international job seekers, indicating a strong preference for established economic centres.

According to the report, Australia became more attractive to respondents from Asian countries, and it rose in popularity among respondents from North America, Africa, and several European countries, including the UK and Ireland. Amid an economic boom as the world emerged from the worst stages of the pandemic, Australia has been attractive to talent from abroad, offering job opportunities, visas, and a great quality of life.

Dr Amit Sarwal, an award-winning expert on Indian diaspora and mobility in Australia and author of Roots and Routes (2016), commented on the findings;

“The deep emotional ties that bind Indian professionals to their homeland are quite striking. While 59% of Indians show a reluctance to relocate—significantly higher than the global average of 33%—it reflects a profound commitment to their cultural and familial roots.

Dr Amit Sarwal, Expert on Indian diaspora and mobility in Australia

“It not only highlights the cultural depth that Indians bring to the global stage but also points to potential challenges in talent mobility that need to be addressed with culturally sensitive strategies,” added Dr Sarwal.

This attachment highlights the dual challenge of attracting international talent to India while retaining its own.

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The study further underscores India’s rising stature as an attractive work destination, particularly among individuals from the UAE, Nigeria, and Kenya. Cities like Bengaluru and Delhi, despite a drop in their global rankings, continue to draw foreign professionals, with Ahmedabad making its debut in the top 100 global cities for employment.

India’s role as a major contributor to the global workforce is also significant, with the world’s largest overseas diaspora consisting of 13.6 million Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), 18.68 million Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs), and nearly 32.3 million Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs). Annually, approximately 2.5 million Indians migrate overseas, representing the highest number of migrants from any single country globally.

As global mobility trends continue to evolve, the insights from the BCG report provide crucial data for governments and businesses aiming to understand and adapt to the changing landscape of international labor markets. For Australia and India, these trends not only reflect economic and professional opportunities but also highlight ongoing shifts in cultural and social dynamics influencing global workforce mobility.

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