expat challenges

The Expats & Spouses Monitor aims to bring expat insights to the forefront.

Amaia and Carlos are expats living in Germany. While working with other expats, they realized there wasn’t enough information about expat integration in Germany. This mobilized them to co-create the Expats & Spouses Monitor, a research project, whose objective is to shed light on expat living in Germany.

They are running an anonymous survey until March 8th of 2021. If you are an expat or an expat spouse in Germany, please participate here. The more collaboration, the clearer the expat’s landscape; the more expat groups become identifiable and the better represented we are as expats. Results will include informing companies and government agencies of the untapped talent that lies within this group, among other things.

Untapped Talent Within The Expat Community

And that is where I wanted to shift the focus. Because while living abroad may sound exciting, it has its sacrifices and challenges. With 85% of expat spouses being women, most of these challenges fall on women. So I had a few questions for Amaia:

Q&A with Expat & Spouses Monitor

Q: Amaia, you mention that 85% of expat spouses are women and 92% of these women have higher education(1). With this untapped talent pool that Germany is overlooking and the need to fill over a million job openings, what can public organizations do to tap into this group?

A: In general, German companies are very traditional in their recruiting processes. The German Bewerbungsmappe and the references from previous employers is something that many international expats don’t have. Public organizations could make companies aware of these differences through informational campaigns

Another example is organizing Job Fairs where companies can meet international expats and get a better idea about their skills.

Public organizations can also actively promote job-creation using economic incentives. Companies interested in working with an expat partner might benefit from some sort of tax deduction, for example. At the end of the day, it is more beneficial (and cheaper) searching properly for a qualified candidate inside the country than looking for him/her outside.        

Companies & Government Agencies in Germany are unaware of the untapped talent of Expat Partners.

Q: What are companies overlooking when hiring expats? 

A: Companies are overlooking the value of soft skills developed by living abroad. Competences such as empathy, cultural intelligence, problem-solving, resilience and comfort with uncertainty are highly relevant in today’s business world. 

By far, however, companies are overlooking a key fact: most expatriates don’t come alone. Developing an international career, typically involves his/her partner as well, whose life is also affected by the shift. A substantial number of the so-called “trailing spouses” are individuals that are also committed to a career of their own.

Studies show that organisational support for accompanying partners is very scarce even though there is a strong link between partner’s adjustment and the success of the assignment

Q: What more can companies do to help expat partners/families integrate?

A: When you move to a new country it is important to find a support group that understands your needs and helps you move forward. Companies that partner up with local networks can offer expat families a softer place to land.

More important in the middle term, is the support towards professional integration. For example, career counselling or work permit assistance, which, in turn, help to address typical dual-career issues such as career discontinuity. 

Thanks to Amaia Izar de la Fuente and Dr. Carlos Morales for spearheading this much needed research & identifying the distinct opportunities within the expat community.

Once again, if you would like to participate in the survey, you can click here.

Find more at Expats & Spouses Monitor.

Ref 1: Source: International Survey Summary Report From Permits Foundation

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