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Britons Keen on Overseas Work - But Not the Languages

December 12 2006 - The Institute for Public Policy Research has published a report, featured on the BBC website, showing that up to 6 million British people live or work abroad for at least part of the year. The most popular location is Australia, where there are 1.3 million resident Britons, followed by Spain (761,000), the USA (678,000) and Canada (603,000). Many of these have retired overseas, encouraged to seek cheaper accommodation and better weather by TV programmes such as Place in the Sun, but large numbers are also seeking work.

A recent survey by intercultural communications consultancy Commisceo Global has found that British people are increasingly interested in working abroad but over two-thirds of them cannot speak the local language in non-English speaking countries.

Sampling 300 people through the company's website, the survey found that 86 per cent of respondents said they had seriously considered working in another country. The main reasons were a better work-life balance and the challenges of working in a different culture. Only 11 per cent identified better weather as a strong motivation for moving abroad. The majority would rely on their organization for help in settling into their new life; 83 per cent said that they would expect their employer to pay for relocation training. In terms of personal preparation, respondents identified talking to other British people who had worked in the same country as more important than learning the local language.

Neil Payne, managing director of Commisceo Global commented:

"The changes and contrasts in the simple things such as the language, food, TV, weather, shopping and socializing are only a small part of the relocation process and culture shock. It is the deeper differences in customs, mentality, world view and interpersonal interaction that have a more profound impact. People can do a lot to minimize the effects of culture shock. Researching the people, culture, social norms, religions, language, food, entertainment and accommodation is a good place to start. Working abroad can be a wonderful experience but good preparation is essential."



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