Employment trends internationally

Vicki Marais-Swanepoel is the Vice President: Engineering and International Placements at Pro Tem. Vicki has over 13 years’ experience in the Recruitment industry.

South Africans seeking employment internationally often lose sight of the fact that while they may have scare or critical skills, recruiters are recruiting from a global talent pool. Hundreds of applicants from around the world may be applying for the same position, and will be equally well qualified. Chartered Accountants are a case in point. Globally there are in excess of 140 000 Chartered Accountants.

Even when applying for positions in Africa, candidates will soon discover that they are not only competing with their African brothers and sisters, but against candidates from the rest of the world.

Unemployment figures are high in Europe, particularly in countries such as Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain. People, including skilled professionals, are desperate for work and are therefore, very competitive. Many expatriates in these countries are also willing to accept packages that are not as expensive as traditional expatriate packages.

South Africans often mistakenly believe they will earn much more if they work internationally. This is not necessarily the case. It is important that South Africans, including finance and accounting professionals, have realistic expectations in terms of remuneration and benefits.

If you want to be competitive, great qualifications are important, however, solid experience is key. This should ideally be linked to project experience. Candidates acquire far more skills and valuable experience working on projects than they do in a regular, routine office job, as they are exposed to a diversity of tasks, work in diverse teams, and in diverse environments.

Nationalisation is an international trend and is also very strong in countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Many countries prefer to employ ‘their own.’ However, if this is not possible, expatriates must be able to transfer skills to locals.

International experience is good to have on a CV. However, be warned, if you want to work internationally, your skills need to be world-class and your expectations, realistic.

Vicki Marais-Swanepoel
Vice President: Engineering and International Placements at Pro Tem.

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