Drivers and barriers to youth migration in Europe What motivates them? (by Relocate)

Posted on 29.08.2017

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RELOCATE, specialist magazine for members and friends of ABRA, always offers us interesting subjects for reflexion subjects.

In their last May 2017 issue, the article « Winning Talent War » particularly attracted our attention.

BNP Paribas Fortis and ThinkYoung did a survey on the drivers and barriers to youth migration in Europe.  How to attract them and what motivates them? The author, Eliza Maree Power, asked the questions to Salvatore Orlando, Head of Expats at BNP Parisbas Fortis and Andréa Gerosa, Founder of ThinkYoung.


What motivates students and young professional expats to relocate?

Understanding what motivates students and young professionals to up sticks and move their whole lives to another country is key in attracting the best talent. Knowing what the driving factors behind their decisions are enables companies to put in place the most effective recruitment campaigns and attractive employment policies. “Millennials* are the driving force behind this contemporary intra-European mobility, with more and more young expats in Europe seeking new academic and professional experiences elsewhere,” states Salvatore Orlando, Head of Expatriates at BNP Paribas Fortis. These past months, the professional market in Europe is still open to vast levels of mobility.

The survey was executed by the Think Young think tank, founded in 2007 and focuses entirely on young people, providing decision makers with high quality research on key issues affecting millennials.

* Millennials : a person reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century, generation Y


Motivation to Relocate - most specifically to Belgium


Just over half of students polled stated that the main reason for leaving their home country and relocating to Belgium was dependent on the opportunity offered by university or school in their home country. A further 39% cited experiencing another culture was enough for them to want to leave home. Learning a new language or developing existing language skills was the key factor in motivating 39% of those who responded. The final outstanding motivating factor in students deciding to relocate to Belgium was that they felt that the move would have a positive impact on their CV and would then in turn maximise their career opportunities.

Young Professionals

The results of this survey on young professionals are much more defined, with a massive 80% of respondents stating that the move to Belgium was wholly based on the career opportunities here. Half of those surveyed cite personal development as a driving factor in their decision to move.
While motivations such as learning another language, the standard of living or quality of life and indeed even financial reasons are way further down on the list. Andrea Gerosa, founder of ThinkYoung sees the clarity in the results: “It’s a meaningful move, driven not by the desire to have fun but by the willingness to learn more, improve skills, and enhance career opportunities.”


What does this mean for employers and educational institutions?

Employers and educational institutions have the hard task of pre-empting students and young professional’s career aspirations, and ensuring that they provide clear opportunities for career progression.

Educational Institutions need to ensure that the courses they offer contain the latest curriculum developments, and that these are transferrable should their students wish to change track – as students often do. Universities and colleges should do their best to attract the best teaching staff that employ modern teaching methods that are also tried and tested. It is also important to offer a wide variety of extra-curricular programmes where students can employ their talents in a more practical environment, gaining them valuable experience for their future in the workforce. Scholarships also ensure that students from a wide variety of backgrounds are given the opportunity to learn, providing the learning environment with a variety of opinions and perspectives.

Employers can use this information to entice the best young professionals to their organisation. Providing potential young employees with clear paths of career progression through well thought-out organisational structures, allows each employee the chance to climb the ladder or explore other areas of the business. Progression isn’t always up, it can be left or right, and when employers offer flexibility, such as secondments to other departments, or other locations – this can be the deciding factor for a young professional full of enthusiasm.


BNP Expat Survey:

"Republished with permission of ABRA - the Association of Belgian Relocation Agents"

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