Decoding Global Talent Onsite and Virtual - Rectangle

Singapore Moves Up to Top Ten in Work Destinations Globally, APAC Benefits from Positive Pandemic Response

Asia Pacific Countries Rise in the Rankings, According to a Survey of 209,000 People in 190 Countries by Boston Consulting Group and The Network; Changes in Popularity Reflect Countries’ Success in Managing Coronavirus

SINGAPORE, March 4, 2021—Singapore is leading a regional charge that positions Asia Pacific as an increasingly attractive destination for global talent according to a new study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and The Network.

A report based on the study is being released today. Decoding Global Talent, Onsite and Virtual reveals the pandemic has had a major impact on attitudes towards working abroad, with Asia Pacific reaping the benefits of comparatively lower global caseloads. Singapore has risen 10 places in global rankings to eighth most attractive location for global talent. This success is echoed across Asia Pacific, with Malaysia, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, and Japan all seen as increasingly favorable destinations by global talent.

Just 50% of people are willing to move to another country for work, according to this year’s survey, which included almost 209,000 participants in 190 countries. That is down from a 64% willingness level in 2014 and 57% in 2018.

Southeast Asia has seen a dramatic shift, with respondents in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Philippines all evidencing significant drops in willingness to move abroad. Ninety-five percent of respondents in Thailand expressed a willingness to move abroad in 2015, falling to 46% in 2020. Just 44% of respondents in Singapore admitted a willingness to move abroad in the latest report, down from 70% in 2018.

“The pandemic has transformed the attitudes of global talent, with the fall in respondents expressing an ambition to move abroad particularly acute in Southeast Asia,” said Ming Teck Kong, Managing Director and Southeast Asia Leader for People & Organization at BCG. “Asia Pacific is now seen as an increasingly attractive destination, partly due to positive performance in tackling COVID caseloads.”

Almost all the countries that moved up in the top ten rankings have a relatively low incidence of COVID-19 cases. Singapore’s success sees it entering the list of top ten most-attractive destinations the first time.

Australia, Japan, and Singapore are now three of the most attractive destinations for respondents from Southeast Asia, with previously favored destination United States falling down these lists.

Attitudes toward the world’s most famous cities likewise reflect their countries’ coronavirus responses. New York, Barcelona, Rome, and Madrid are now considered much less attractive as work destinations than they were in 2018. Tokyo and Singapore have increased in attractiveness, with the latter rising eight positions to a ranking of seventh in top city destinations according to respondents. Kuala Lumpur entered the top 30 most attractive city destinations for the first time.

A New Kind of Mobility

While there is less willingness now to relocate to a foreign country, the survey shows enthusiasm for the model of staying in one’s home country while working for a foreign employer, with 57% of global respondents willing to do this.

Singapore is Southeast Asia’s most favored destination for remote employment, and ninth globally. The willingness to work for a foreign company remotely is comparatively lower in Southeast Asia, with 51% of Singaporeans, 53% of Malaysians, and 55% of Indonesians willing to work for a remote employer, compared to 57% global average.

The overall openness to virtual work is especially high among people in the information technology and digital fields. Among people with master’s degrees or above, the willingness quotient was likewise high.

“The pandemic has significantly disrupted the employment market and accelerated digitization of businesses, resulting in a ‘shift’ towards remote employment. That said, employers should not compromise on seeking out the best talent available—as remote working culture is today as mainstream as physical work environments—if they are to attain high levels of productivity, efficiency and innovation,” said Ramesh Rajandran, Chief Marketing Officer at SEEK Asia.

SEEK Asia, the largest employment marketplace in Southeast Asia, contributed findings to the study.

“At our end, SEEK Asia shall continue seeking out the best talent for employers, while also improving people’s lives through better careers, and in securing ‘jobs that matter’,” he added. “We fulfil this promise through offering the most opportunities for job-seekers and employers to connect with one another, complemented by our best-in-class artificial intelligence (AI) matching technologies to achieve that ‘win-win’ equation.”

The report describes the challenges companies face in offering remote international employment—including cultural integration and the securing of visas—and highlights some early solutions.

The research for the Decoding Global Talent, Onsite and Virtual report was conducted from October to December 2020. This is the first in a series of three reports BCG and The Network will publish in the coming months as part of this year’s research.

A copy of the first report can be downloaded here; an online summary of the report will be here.

To arrange an interview with one of our experts on this topic, please contact Clarys Chan at +60 16 211 9389 or

About The Network

The Network is a global alliance of more than 60 leading recruitment websites, committed to finding the best talent in over 130 countries. Founded in 2002, The Network has become the global leader in online recruitment, serving more than 2,000 global corporations. We offer these corporations a single point of contact in their home countries, and allow them to work in a single currency and with a single contract—while giving them access to a global workforce. The recruitment websites in The Network attract almost 200 million unique visitors each month. For more information, please visit

About SEEK Asia

JobStreet and jobsDB are part of SEEK Asia, which is the leading online employment market place in Asia. SEEK Asia covers 7 countries namely Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

SEEK Asia is the extension of the Australian Securities Exchange listed company called SEEK. The company’s purpose is to help improve people’s lives through a better career. SEEK Asia’s database consists of over 500,000 corporate hirers and over 24 million candidates.

About Boston Consulting Group

Boston Consulting Group partners with leaders in business and society to tackle their most important challenges and capture their greatest opportunities. BCG was the pioneer in business strategy when it was founded in 1963. Today, we work closely with clients to embrace a transformational approach aimed at benefiting all stakeholders—empowering organizations to grow, build sustainable competitive advantage, and drive positive societal impact.
Our diverse, global teams bring deep industry and functional expertise and a range of perspectives that question the status quo and spark change. BCG delivers solutions through leading-edge management consulting, technology and design, and corporate and digital ventures. We work in a uniquely collaborative model across the firm and throughout all levels of the client organization, fueled by the goal of helping our clients thrive and enabling them to make the world a better place.

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