Talent Migration: BCG Shares 5 Key Predictions for the Future

Opportunity and quality of life have historically driven humanity’s migrations over the centuries, but our ever-changing world is set to see migration take on a new form, driven by competition by cities for a diverse array of residents with in-demand skills. A new report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), “How Cities Can Win The Competition for Talent – And Residents,” lays out 5 key predictions for how migration will change by 2030.

The report, based on surveys of 25,000 city residents and 850 executives across 10 countries, reveals that migrants today are traveling greater distances in search of what it calls “cities of choice,” a BCG-developed metric that measures and determines opportunity and quality of life. In the aggregate, today’s migrants are more diverse than ever and sport skills that are in high demand by employers, leaving both companies and cities competing for their attention.

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While the world recently hit a population of 8 billion, only 280 million people currently live in a country outside of the one in which they were born. With parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia moving toward becoming middle-income economies, BCG predicts that migration will exceed 350 million people by 2030 as people emigrate to seek better opportunities.

As people continue to travel further to find cities of choice, cultural progress is also empowering women in traditional societies to live more independently, potentially resulting in women accounting for a greater share of international migrants.

With cities tending to attract the majority of migrants and a growing body of the workforce working in digital or office environments not rooted in a unique national culture, BCG found that most migrants move in search of a high standard of living, as opposed to seeking a similar culture or community of the same ethnicity.

And with many businesses hiring globally from their inception, the report also predicts that the world will continue to open up to global migrants, even in spite of significant political resistance. Further, as people become more mobile in their work and move to more favorable locations, their taxable income will move with them, turning today’s war for talent into tomorrow’s war for residents.

BCG’s predictions, if they come to fruition, will have a serious impact on cities around the globe and deserve serious attention from policymakers. National leaders will need to build migration strategies focused on driving economic growth and innovation, and city leaders will need to invest heavily in livability and build a strong global brand for businesses and young professionals, with the efforts of both building cities that coming migrants will want to live and grow in.