Career Change By Emigration and the Brain Drain

Are you aware of the many options available to you in your career change?  One of these is emigration.

The UK Daily Mail reported in August 2011: “More than a million of the highest-qualified and best-trained Britons have gone to live abroad and are contributing to the wealth of other countries”.  More than half had gone to countries including America, Canada, Australia, or, increasingly, Germany.  The UK Government is so concerned about the effects of emigration on the UK that they have launched an enquiry with the aim of “preventing ‘brain drain’ (the large-scale emigration of individuals with valuable technical skills or knowledge)” on 1st May 2012.

Did you know that there is a ‘brain drain’ from southern Europe at present as many professionals migrate and find excellent work in countries like Germany? The New York Times reported on 6th May 2012 that while unemployment rates in southern Europe are high in Spain, Germany is  “desperate for educated workers” who want a career change. It is expected that as Spain’s economy improves, these professionals will return to their home countries after a couple of years.  While Spain loses some of its most skilled people in the short term, one benefit is less pressure exerted on their struggling welfare system.

Canada is luring skilled and talented workers over from Ireland with the promise of work in several different markets and the promise of long term visas. The demand in Canada is so great for certain trades that they are now competing with Australia, another country that draws a lot of Irish workers. This is an important career change route for workers in Ireland, not all of them young.

Fan O’Reilly in April 2012 wrote about the current ‘reverse brain drain in the US’. For generations, brain drain has taken place from the world’s less-developed countries losing many of their best and brightest to the West. While this is still continuing, there is now a reverse flow to countries like China, India, Brazil and Russia. In the global race for talent, it is no longer certain that these expats will eventually return to the US.

Major life decisions such as these are not to be taken lightly. What a daring chess move for your career change! However, sometimes risky moves can backfire, as well. “That’s why you need to create a plan for your period abroad,” says Alexandra Levit, a career expert and author of books like New Job, New You. “Know in advance how long you are going to stay, and what you intend to accomplish during that time. Make sure the job you take will allow you to learn transferable skills that are relevant across a variety of roles and industries.” In-demand skills include IT, engineering and teaching. You can search for international jobs at familiar sites like or, or increasingly via social media like LinkedIn.

Don’t underestimate the costs of relocating abroad (including healthcare coverage), which can be substantial. Choose a location where you have some existing contacts and a potential support system, otherwise you could begin to feel isolated and depressed. And continue to cultivate your network back home, so that when you do come back home, the transition will be relatively seamless.

Derek Capo left the U.S. in 2007 searching for a location which was economically vibrant, with seemingly limitless possibilities.He now lives in Beijing, having founded Next Step China ( The firm offers Chinese-language immersion programs, and arranges opportunities for foreigners to teach, intern or volunteer in China. “I wanted to take the next step in my life and career,” says Capo, now 29. “I connected the dots and decided that I should go somewhere different and learn something new, like Mandarin, to challenge myself. I picked China because it was growing so fast.”

What are your plans for your career change? There are SO many options available to you. If you would like support on your career change path, or for more information about my services, take a look at .

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