The forgotten talent pool – Australian diaspora

At any given time, close to 1 million Australians are living overseas.

Australian diaspora

For a country grappling with skills shortage, having roughly 5% of the populace living and working overseas is a huge drain of precious human capital. Nevertheless, the flow continues. Ingrained in our culture, travelling and working overseas is a ‘rite of passage’ for many Australians. As travelling becomes easier, and with the rapid globalisation of trade and business, it is likely that Australians will continue to leave the country in search of better opportunities and adventures overseas.

A study by Frank Lowy institute found, as a group expatriate Australians are better qualified and well paid; 45% have a post-graduate degree compared to 9% of the Australian workforce back home. One third of Australian expatriates congregated in global cities (London, HK, LA, NY, San Francisco, Singapore, Berlin) and are employed in knowledge based industries. Dubbed ‘gold- collared workers’ Australians working overseas are highly qualified and in demand.

It is a mystery why very little attention is paid to this valuable and easily accessible talent pool.

Progressive recruitment firms, mostly with multi-national reach, have started cashing in on cross-border movement of talent. The UK-Australia traffic in particular is proving to be lucrative. A rash of new providers – career event organisers, recruitment firms, job boards, global candidate database, migration agents etc – are starting to pay attention. However, in general, most employers and talent service providers are oblivious, or have no strategy to effectively mine the overseas talent pool.

Opportunities abounds. Every employers ought to have a deliberate expatriates strategy. For a start, there should be a special section dedicated to assisting returning Australian on every employer’s career website. Job boards can choose to become helpful gateways to opportunities by investing more resources. HR practitioner and recruiters have little excuse to remain passive, tools to connect and reach talent beyond our borders are readily available.

For those willing to stray away from the beaten track, there is a treasure trove of talent waiting to be mined.

Other resources
Michael Fullilove, Expats – Time to use them wisely
Lowy Institute report on Australian diaspora
ABS – Australian Expatriates in OECD countries
CEDA – Australia’s Diaspora

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