Thursday, November 24, 2011

Expat Partners: Do You Really Want To Work, Or Are You Just Paying Lip-Service To Your Lack Of A Career Abroad? (Survey)

Hi Everyone, Evelyn Simpson and her colleague Louise Wiles have put together a survey with regards to how relocation abroad has affected the career choices of accompanying expat partners.

If you can help by completing the survey, please do so here. They estimate it to take about 15 minutes.

Here are some words from Evelyn Simpson...

"When I contemplate the dynamic and successful careers that my husband and I had when our expat days were just beginning, I wonder how, after nearly 12 years of moving over three continents and with two children, our lives would be if we were still trying to maintain both of those careers. Here are just some of the problems for which I could not envision solutions:

* How would we manage to engineer moves with different companies to the same countries without one or other of us stepping back?

* Would we both be able to get working visas if one of us had to look for a new job with a move?

* Would we both be able to progress our careers with multiple moves or would disruption, language issues, salary issues, recognition of qualifications and experience have derailed one or both careers?

* How would we have managed childcare issues - day to day, days when kids were sick, holidays - without all our familiar systems in place?

* How would we have managed the practicalities of our six moves if both of us had to start work straight away?

For us, it was a moot point. I wanted to be able to see my daughter in the mornings and the evenings but the intensity and unpredictability of investment banking would make that a rare occurrence. So I resigned. But for other couples, these are just some of the dilemmas they face when one is offered the opportunity to move internationally and both want to continue with their careers.

Unfortunately the numbers show that few couples manage to pull it off successfully. The Permits Foundation's 2008 International Survey of Expatriate Spouses and Partners showed that while 90% of spouses and partners were either in paid employment or self employed prior to relocation, only 28% remained so after relocation.

In my own case, the decision was carefully thought out and driven by my desire for a change as well as the needs of our family. However, after two more international moves and another baby, a return to work in a new country, and with limited support seemed like a long shot. And that’s before I considered that, before long, we would be on the move again. Luckily for me, in coaching I found my vocation, which I can conveniently practice from wherever I find myself and which gives me the flexibility to accommodate our family logistics. However, you can see that although my initial decision was purposeful, the unintended consequence of our choices was that my options to return to a traditional workplace were limited, regardless of my legal entitlement.

Earlier this summer, Louise Wiles, founder of Success Abroad Coaching and I responded to a question on LinkedIn which asked if accompanying partners really want to work or whether we just pay lip service to the idea of working, safe in the knowledge that legally, most of us are prevented from doing so. Inspired by the question and our interest in the lives of accompanying partners, we decided to launch a survey, which explores this topic and also considers the factors which influence the choice to work or not and how that choice affects life satisfaction.

If you would like to support our work, please complete the survey here:

Many, many thanks! Evelyn."


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