Globalization and migration: competing in a global workforce
A lot of Bahamians feel that the Bahamian dream is to live like an expatriate worker: high salary, beautiful home in an upscale community, allowances, discounts and benefits that far surpass those of their local counterparts. It creates resentment and frustration, especially when it is apparent that the expatriate is not working as hard or at all; or worse yet, that the expatriate is not as competent as they are perceived to be.
This is what many fear about globalization: migration, or the movement of workers between countries. Developed countries have been experiencing this for years. What country has not been built off the collective effort of local and foreign talent? Very few, if any, haven’t.
“Along with trade, migration is one of the two main sources of public anxiety about globalization,” according to The Economist, Needed but not Wanted, Special Report 2016.
What are the fears and concerns of migration?
- Unfair competition. In a culture where foreign talent is more respected, local professionals are concerned that they will not be given an opportunity to vie for the same positions at the same level of compensation.
- Burdened public services. Strong policies and planning are required and need to be enforced so that there isn’t tension between the local workforce and the immigrant workforce. Increased taxation can result in people partaking in the social service/welfare system – either by immigrants or by unemployed locals.
- Lowered compensation for low-skill positions. While this is not a direct correlation in all cases, some immigrants in low-skill positions drive down wages in some roles because of their willingness to work for a lower wage than a local would with similar qualifications.
- Brain drain. Who leaves one country to go to another for better opportunities? Often it is the skilled and qualified. This is referred to as brain drain and affects the host country because it has to bring in the talent it has lost.
What are the implications for professionals in a globalized workforce? What skills and characteristics will position you for success?
- Stay current with practices and knowledge for your field. Tenure without relevant experience will not make you marketable against someone who has real experience and a proven track record in a particular field. Stay current by reading, attending conferences, obtaining certifications and degrees, joining professional associations – whatever it takes to upgrade your knowledge and skill base.
- Keep abreast of global trends in your field. Not only should your skills be honed and ready, but you should also pay attention to what is happening in the industry itself. Is this a field that may become obsolete in several years? Is it shifting from one part of the world to the other? Is it conducive to entrepreneurship rather than employment? Paying attention keeps you ahead of the game and prepared to jump strategically on the next move.
- Improve the areas of your personal and professional development. Areas of improvement I have noticed which hinder people from competing for the next level in their careers are things that can be learned and worked on, such as public speaking and presentation skills, training skills, communication skills, leadership skills, working well with others, computer skills, report writing skills, planning and strategy and high levels of esteem and emotional intelligence. Take an honest assessment of yourself and determine what you need to do to get better. Do you need a coach? A mentor? A course? Pride keeps many from doing better and taking advantage of what is before them. There is never any shame in self-improvement.
- Increase your exposure to networking on an international level. It is said that we are the sum total of the closest five people in our lives. Is your personal network holding you back? Do you need to learn how to interact with people from other cultures and walks of life? So often I run into people who are fearful of meeting new people or people who are different from they are. People are people. If you can connect with people
who can help you advance, then you are all the better for it. The next time you are asked to attend an international workshop or represent the company at a national or regional event, say yes. Say yes now to say yes for your future.
When you develop yourself as a well-rounded professional, you have nothing to fear. The right door will open, and you will be able to walk through it with confidence knowing that you are well-prepared and equipped for the next leg of the journey, wherever it may take you. Who knows. You may be one of those persons migrating too.
- Simmone L. Bowe, MSc, SPHRi, is a seasoned human resource and organization development consultant & trainer, speaker, author, mentor and activist who focuses on helping business owners, leaders and professionals diagnose their people and performance problems and implement strategic solutions. For comments, queries and bookings, email firstname.lastname@example.org.