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The biggest barriers to working abroad

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Despite an overwhelming majority of undergraduates (92%) being keen on working abroad in the early stages of their career, only 19% of HR managers rated the geographic mobility of their young employees as strong, a new report titled Going Global by Universum and CEMS.

The global survey of over 1,200 respondents (hiring executives, graduates and students) further identified the top two barriers to employees working abroad – the ability to adapt to new cultures, and language problems.

Almost half of HR managers (48%) identified the ability to adapt to new cultures, while one-in-six highlighted language problems, as the two main barriers to employees working abroad.

Nevertheless, 36% of hiring executives said that taking on international assignments helps to boost the career growth of young professionals, while 61% recommended that working outside comfort zones is a key career driver for new hires.

The report further revealed that 87% of HR managers, and 89% of undergraduates believe speaking more than one language is important for future employability.

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Roland Siegers, executive director of CEMS, said: “In an ever-changing, fast-paced working world, competition is high, so graduates need to find ways to set themselves apart. As international assignments within global companies open up, candidates with the language skills and the ability to adapt to new and challenging environments have a clear advantage when it comes to securing roles and progressing in the workplace.

“For young professionals to acquire these skills, it means going out of their comfort zone, living and studying in a foreign environment at an early stage in their career and immersing themselves in different cultures. In addition, many students are still under the impression that English is the international language of business, but learning a range of languages fluently will make the difference between an average candidate and excellent one.”

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