Workers in Turkey less willing to move abroad for jobs, finds BCG survey

10 September 2018 3 min. read

Despite its geographic location as an intercontinental gateway, workers in Turkey are more inclined than the worldwide average to stay in their country according to a global survey by The Boston Consulting Group – and it’s not due to a lack of ambition.

Often considered the gateway between East and West, located on both the continents of Europe and West Asia/the Middle East, Turkey has never quite sat comfortably in either geographical category. And so too with respect to the findings of The Boston Consulting Group’s comprehensive global mobility survey, which showed that Turkey’s workforce is of a largely different profile to most of Europe, but yet, despite more resembling that of the Middle East, is in large contrast with the trends of the Arab region.

The Boston Consulting Group’s Decoding Global Talent survey, which canvassed the work and mobility sentiments of over 365,000 people across 197 countries, further found that despite Turkey’s geographic advantage at the crossroads of three major regions, worker’s from Turkey were less interested in working overseas on average than their global counterparts, with 54 percent of respondents in Turkey stating a willingness to pursue work opportunities abroad compared to 57 percent globally.Incoming and outgoing skilled workers in TurkeyLike the emerging economies of the Middle East, Turkey features a young and growing labour force – in sharp contrast with the ageing working demographic and shrinking populations of the mature economies of Europe. Indeed, with a median age of 32 and nearly 40 percent of its population under 25, Turkey has a younger profile than almost all of Europe. Yet, unlike the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar – which all recorded willingness rates of above 90 percent – Turkish workers were less prepared to move abroad.

And it was by no means a lack of ambition which is delimiting the prospect of economic migration, as the survey further found that against the global average the Turkish were more ambitious, with workers valuing career development above all, along with placing a higher premium on learning and the opportunity for leadership. Younger workers in Turkey were also the most willing to relocate, despite the overall average dropping form 58 percent in 2014 to 54 percent in the survey this year.Top reasons for Turkish workforce mobilityAs for preferences for those who were willing to leave Turkey however – with the primary reasons given being to broaden their personal experiences and to take advantage of better career opportunities – destinations in Europe continue to feature prominently, making up most of the top ten bar the US (at first choice), Canada and Australia. In terms of Turkey as a desired destination, the majority of the top ten were neighbouring countries in West Asia along with those in North Africa, with Indonesia sneaking in at tenth. Overall, Turkey has jumped in attractiveness from a global rank of 62 four years ago to 41st today.

In respect to Turkey’s rising attractiveness as a domestic and international employment location, the report cites several possible drivers, including Istanbul’s rich culture and history and the city’s emergence as a major leisure travel destination. Moreover, the local economy is rolling along at pace, growing at a rate faster than every other member of the G20 with a GDP increase of 7.4 percent over the twelve months to March – and favourable ongoing forecasts for the immediate future.

Altogether, Turkey’s decline in willingness to take up a work opportunity abroad matched the mood globally, with the overall survey figures marking a seven point drop in four years – from 64 percent in 2014 to the current global average of 57 percent. There are a myriad of possible reasons which could explain the fall in mobility to some extent – including, broadly, the growing global nationalism – but as the BCG report concludes; “It could be that the world is becoming less mobile. Or it could be that work itself is becoming more global, making it unnecessary for people to uproot their lives to find satisfying, well-paying jobs.”