More expats coming home to work

Written By komlim puldel on Jumat, 26 Desember 2014 | 20.01

Terry McCrann explains why difficulties await Australia's business sector in the new year.

Sean Keenihan, chairman of partners at Norman Waterhouse Lawyers in Adelaide, returned to Australia after spending three years working in Indonesia. Picture: Mike Burton Source: News Corp Australia

THE gap between the number of workers who are leaving Australia for jobs and those returning to further their careers is widening — with more staff than ever choosing to come back to work on home soil.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show a steady increase in the number of people who left Australia long term that have come back home.

Last year, 121,370 people returned to Australia compared to 98,840 in 2003.

Meanwhile the number of people leaving in the first place has drastically dropped off, with 70,660 long-term Australian departures recorded in 2013 — 102,250 people left for the long term in 2007 and 83,980 people in 2003.

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Accounting and advisory firm William Buck reports weakening world business conditions as a result of the global financial crisis was driving many expats back to Australia.

Its Corporate Advisory Focus Group head Tony Hood said the surge of skilled workers back to Australian shores could give many local companies an innovation edge.

"Prior to the GFC, many of Australia's best white collar employees moved offshore to get a slice of the bigger money and opportunities on offer," he said.

"Now we're seeing a 'reverse brain drain', with many of these workers returning home to take advantage of employment conditions which are now on par with those offered around the world but with the added lifestyle benefits Australia offers.

"Many Eurozone and US companies had no choice but to innovate for survival so expats working in these business gained a huge amount of knowledge from these experiences."

He said the effects of the GFC in Australia were less severe, so many businesses may have been complacent as there was less urgency to change, but now are facing challenges that expats can help them through.

Norman Waterhouse Lawyers chairman of partners, Sean Keenihan, 43, was in 2003 one of the first to start the trend to return to Australia after spending three years in Indonesia.

Keenihan, who also holds roles as the vice president of Australia China Business Council and SA Government Strategic Adviser for China, returned to SA with his wife as they saw it as the best place in the world to start a family.

"At 43 I'm comparably young, compared to a lot of the chairman of other firms," he said.

"It's indicative of my partners recognising that I have a global perspective and a capacity to help our firm grab a stake of the future and play a key role in SA's economic transformation."

He said organisations need to be globally competitive and engaged for our standard of living to remain.

"Those that have both the capability and the appetite to play that role in connecting Australian and South Australian business and communities to other cultures, other economies, other markets — they are precisely the people that we need back here and precisely the type of people that progressive and innovative employers are looking towards to help their companies, to not only survive but prospect in the new world economy," he said.

Expat returned and stayed ... Dene Creegan gained overseas experience for 5 years before returning to Queensland. Picture: Liam Kidston Source: News Corp Australia

7Springs Medical Practice general manager Dene Creegan came back to Queensland from the UK in 2008 when the number of people heading overseas was near its peak.

"I didn't think there'd be any jobs, that I'd work in a fish and chip shop," she said.

"When you're coming home from Europe, you're living in the European bubble and there's an international skills shortage so there's plenty of jobs out here."

Recruitment firm Hays regional director Lynne Roeder said the peak time for expats to return to Australia was December and January as they ran away from the northern winter for summer holidays in Australia.

"We do see a spike in interest in the run up to December as candidates often hope to secure a new role in the New Year," she said.

"There are jobs for them in Australia depending on their skill set but they do need to be 'on the ground'.

"Very few employers will hire candidates that are still overseas."

www.careerone.com.au


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