By: Chase Eskelsen, M.Ed.
Living abroad will never be the same—especially for families. This is proving especially for recruiters at multinational corporations. As the world slowly opens back up to international business assignments, many families that were abroad will not be heading back to their assigned work post. Others who were interested have decided the risk is now too great to make a huge life change.
Ollie Williams explored several thoughts in a recent Forbes article, “Expat, Broke, And Remote: Why Foreign Workers Are Coming Home.” He gauged what comes back from the Spring 2020 downturn and perhaps more importantly, what doesn’t. He spoke with a recruiter who was seeing these large companies institute hiring freezes (which are likely temporary), but more concerning for families that consider living as an expat, these companies are removing a lot of the moving package perks.
Things that used to be fairly standard (relocation assistance, housing and car allowance, children’s schooling, etc.) are quickly going away—likely removing a large percentage of the individuals and families who would have considered a job. Removing a large number of these perks add new wrinkles into many family decisions.
First and foremost, “Should I stay or should I go?” What do these families do when they’re in a complex dilemma of a sick family back home? What about missing extended family Sunday dinners? Intercultural Strategist Sundae Bean of Expat Happy Hour asks this question and provides many different things to consider with the main thought being, “What if you could have both?” It is very possible that families will not see that they can have both in the post 2020 world we live in. The recruiters job then becomes finding ways to solve these problems without the added financial incentives such as expressing the better work/life balance expats have abroad versus at home and the 52% of expats who say they have a better quality of life in their new home according to Expat Network.
It then becomes the job of the recruiter, in tandem with the families, to find a common solution, according to Bean. First, “How do we meet our needs?” In many instances, these families are making the decision to go without education assistance for their children. As a recruiter, alternate options need to be provided to these families. The days of going abroad and paying $25,000 or more for one year of education may not be possible. Furthermore, the transition from one school to another and the academic implications (with the possible transition back home after a several year assignment) can add stress to the decision.
Recruiters must come with the ready-made solution. Perhaps, a solution like The Bridge School. With an enrollment around $6,000 per student, per school year, it is reasonably priced, fully accredited by Cognia, and is NCAA eligible. A perk for mobile families—it’s full time online. Students can school from anywhere in the world. A move from one location to another doesn’t remove the student from their teacher, it doesn’t remove them from their classmates, and it doesn’t have the same impact of mobility on their academic outcomes because they still have the same curriculum.
What problems does The Bridge School Solve?
- It is cost effective at approximately $3,000 per semester
- It allows a student the flexibility to learn from anywhere in the world
- It allows for a pause in the curriculum/live instruction to take long weekends to explore the local areas
- It becomes an anchor in a mobile environment.
Other areas won’t be quite so easy. Giving the newly moved family a bus pass versus a car allowance won’t have quite the same sparkle. That means it’s time to get creative in the perks that you do offer. Some may be financial, others will not. There will always be those individuals and families who are in the expat community because they crave the adventure of the situation—ultimately, the opportunity to be born several times in one lifetime as they immerse themselves in a new culture, norms, and experiences.
From a family perspective, the idea of having a Third-culture kid(s) becomes a driving benefit for some families. Research, according to the previously mentioned Expat Network, shows 56% of families who move internationally with children would not have done anything differently. A key benefit? Confidence and self-reliance. About one-quarter of the families listed this as an improvement to their children’s long-term wellbeing.
Benefits of Children Living Outside of Their Passport Issued Country
- They are highly educated and four times more likely to have a Bachelor’s degree. – Pacific Prime
- About 40% earn advanced degrees (compared to 5% of non-TCKs) 
- They speak two or more languages 85% of the time – Denizen
- There is a quickly growing support structure for mobile families with highly active online
- They are being set up for a successful career with their skills in cultural intelligence, sensitive to diversity and inclusion, and are more adaptive in ambiguity than non-TCKs. – Alice Sergent
As we move forward into our post-2020 world, the benefits (and job opportunities) will look different, but going into this season with the proper solutions and statistics to share with families about the benefits of their potential move will be critical.