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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Indian Expats Are Young and Highly Educated IT Experts

Indian expats are happier with their working hours and live in countries where new concepts of work play a more important role than back home in India. However, though many expats worldwide look for the option to work remotely in their dream job, this aspect is not as important to Indian expats.

Why do Indians move abroad? According to the Expat Insider 2021 survey by InterNations, 59% of Indians working abroad relocated for their career — a much higher share than the global average (47%). Close to one-quarter (23%) found a job on their own, 19% were recruited internationally, and 14% were sent by their employer. Just 3% moved abroad to start their own business, which is still a slightly higher share than the global average (2%).

Aside from work-related reasons, an above-average share of Indians working abroad (11%) originally relocated to go to school or university in their current country of residence (vs. 8% globally). On the other hand, it is rather uncommon among Indian expats to move for love / in order to live in their partner’s home country (3% vs. 10% globally).

The Typical Indian Expat Is a Well-Educated Young Man

Indian expats working abroad are on average 38.7 years old, which is about four years younger than the global average of 43.1 years. The gender split among them is very uneven: 81% are men (vs. 53% globally), while just 19% are women (vs. 46% globally). What is more, they are also more likely to work full time (93%) than the global average (82%).

Indians working abroad are well educated: close to nine in ten either have a bachelor’s degree (35% vs. 33% globally) or a postgraduate/master’s degree (54% vs. 47% globally). Another 6% hold a PhD as their highest level of education, which is, however, a slightly smaller share than the global average (8%).

They Work in IT and Are Unlikely to Be Business Owners

More than three in ten Indian expats (31%) work in a senior and/or specialist position (vs. 30% globally), and 21% are top managers / executives (vs. 13% globally). However, about one-quarter (26%) work in lower or middle management (vs. 17% globally). While the share of Indians who moved abroad to start their own business is slightly above the global average, they are unlikely to have their own business now. Just 4% say so (vs. 7% globally), and only another 4% are self-employed / freelancers, compared to 11% worldwide.

The top field of work among Indian expats is IT (20% vs. 11% globally). They are also overrepresented in their second most common field, which is manufacturing & engineering (11% vs. 7% globally). Another 8% work in finance (vs. 8% globally). On the other hand, Indian expats are underrepresented in the field of education (6%), which is the most frequently mentioned field of work among expats worldwide (12%).

Indians Enjoy Better Working Hours and a Better Work-Life Balance Abroad

Three-quarters of Indians working abroad (75%) are satisfied with their job in general, which is a slightly higher share than the global average (73%). They are particularly happy with their working hours (75% vs. 70% globally) and their work-life balance (71% vs. 68% globally).

Interestingly, though, the average working hours per week among all Indian expats (43.8 hours) are actually longer than the global average (39.9 hours). Maybe the comparison with their home country plays a role here: in fact, just 51% of expats working in India are happy with their working hours — while 34% rate them negatively (vs. 15% globally).

Good Career Opportunities in India but a Better State of the Economy Abroad

However, only 63% of Indians working abroad are satisfied with their job security, compared to 67% globally. And while they rate the state of the local economy in their current country of residence slightly better than average (68% happy vs. 65% globally), just 47% are happy with their local career opportunities (vs. 49% globally). Meanwhile, only 54% of working expats in India rate the state of the local economy positively, but an above-average share (51%) is happy with the local career opportunities there.

This might all be related to the interesting mix of countries Indian expats move to. The top 5 most common destinations are the UAE, Germany, Oman, Singapore, and Qatar, which all rank very differently in the Working Abroad Index of the Expat Insider 2021 survey. Germany, for example, comes 6th out of 59 destinations, and expats living in Germany value their career opportunities, the job security, and the state of the local economy; Oman, however, lands in 49th place. Expats living there are particularly unhappy with the local career opportunities, the job security, and their job in general.

Remote Work Is Not Important to Indians Working Abroad

The top 5 things that Indian expats like best about their current job are the work-life balance (38%), a good compensation and/or good benefits (26%), flexible working hours (25%), the opportunity to work remotely / from home (23%), and their general career development (20%). The most significant difference between Indians working abroad and the global average is that remote work does not seem to be that important to them — globally, 32% of working expats appreciate this factor.

Close to three in ten Indians working abroad (29%) are currently unable to work remotely, compared to 22% globally. What is more, out of those who can work remotely, just 53% enjoy doing so. This is twelve percentage points below the global average (65%). When asked about the most important aspects of their ideal work environment, just 11% of Indians working abroad consider the opportunity to work remotely / from home important, which is only half the global average (22%).

What Indian Expats Wish For in Their Dream Job

So, what do Indian expats consider important when imagining their dream job? The top 5 aspects they mention most frequently are a good compensation and/or good benefits (59%), a good work-life balance (49%), room for personal development/growth (26%), general career development (24%), and flexible working hours (22%).

Among the other aspects mentioned, their employer’s corporate culture/values (21% vs. 15% globally) and an attractive work space (14% vs. 9% globally) are more important to Indian expats than to expats worldwide. “It makes sense that an attractive work space is important to Indian expats since they do not seem to enjoy working remotely as much as the average expat,” says Malte Zeeck, InterNations Founder and Co-CEO. “Even though they do not enjoy this particular aspect of a modern work environment, they still move to destinations where modern approaches to work tend to play a more important role than in their home country.”

In fact, 60% of Indian expats say that factors like autonomy, freedom, creativity, personal development, and self-fulfillment are more important in the business culture of their host country than back home in India. These values are closely related to the concept of New Work, which describes the new way of working in the global and digital age. On a global scale, just 49% of expats say the same about their host country.

New Work Is Not Important in India Yet

When it comes to expats comparing the importance of New Work in the local business culture, India lands indeed among the bottom 5 destinations worldwide (51st out of 55). All common destinations where Indian expats work perform better in this regard: The UAE (2nd) is even one of the leading countries worldwide, followed by Singapore (14th), Oman (17th), and Qatar (18th) in the top 20. Even Germany, which only lands in 35th place, still ranks far ahead of India.

It is hardly a surprise then that nearly seven in ten Indian expats (69%) find that New Work plays an important role in the business culture of their current country of residence (vs. 58% globally). For example, 71% of all expats working in the UAE say that New Work is an important part of their destination’s business culture, while just 39% of expats in India agree.

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