The new global nomads
Today you are just as likely to be introduced to someone professionally by e-mail as you are at a business lunch or trade show. Changes in technology have made it easier to be connected anywhere in the world, a mobile Internet USB stick allowed me to Skype from a 4-dollar a night ‘hotel’ in Southwestern Uganda and set up my current internship. A Canadian passport, a laptop, a plane ticket and a unique story are providing countless opportunities as I travel and work around the world.
Business is a universal language; Apple and Microsoft have become global platforms with Skype connecting people from around the world. Skills and theories learned in dusty Vancouver classrooms can be applied a world away.
New technologies allow for call centers in Bangalore, programmers in Moscow and electronics manufacturers in Bangkok all to work seamlessly. Having a global perspective and the ability to work in different countries is increasingly becoming an important skill for all employees from the smallest start up to the largest corporations.
It is truly fascinating working with people under one roof from four different countries, educated in different professions while all moving towards the same goal.
Technology is now providing opportunities for emerging markets and outsourcing has sped up the business cycle with a new 24/7 capability. Your health records can be compiled in Mumbai while your doctor sleeps in Vancouver providing him the ability to provide quicker turn around periods and more detailed analysis with each patient. Outsourcing can not only reduce costs but increase service.
Outsourcing involves sending parcels of work to lower wage countries. The industry is dominated by call centers, and book keeping services. The company then incorporates the finished product into their existing business allowing them to be more competitive.
Off shoring by comparison involves moving an entire section of the business overseas, manufacturing is the most common method. Unfortunately while Asia is booming serving the global market East Africa has stagnated; broken infrastructure, landlocked countries, corruption, civil wars and unreliable power all increase the cost of doing business for any foreign corporation. Asia's advantage is an educated population and they have developed synergies which will impede a shift towards Africa's lower wage economies.
So how does technology, outsourcing and offshoring affect the job market for young professionals?
Although many low skill jobs are being sent overseas successful organizations have been focusing on creating higher value added positions at home.
Employees now need to be able to work with foreign partners across several time zones effortlessly and utilize the global workforce. This makes international work experience increasingly important even for positions within 'The West'. Being the best in your town, city, or state was okay 40 years ago but companies can now find talent internationally with a few clicks on sites like Odesk.
Young professionals need to work hard to develop skills that make them stand out globally and sometime that means following opportunities around the world.
Ideas are spreading around the world in e-mails, and web sites but it is the ex-patriots that are cross-pollinating the world with a new globalized culture.
Young professionals are becoming global nomads moving from city to city and bringing their most valuable asset, knowledge with them. My next article will focus on how to land your international dream job.
This article is part one of two on the international employment landscape for young professionals.