Accompanying partners by the numbers

Here we are is here to help accompanying partners seek new opportunities that come with a life abroad. But who is the accompanying partner?

Numbers about accompanying partners on international assignments are hard to come by. That is because global HR questionnaires tend to focus on the assignee, the person with the international assignment contract. Therefore we know that people on international assignment in 2016 were (1):

  • 75% male
  • 31% were in their 30’s, 38% were in their 40’s, and
  • 68% of them were married.

From these numbers you can of course start visualizing what the typical accompanying partner looks like.

But what is also interesting, when looking at the numbers, is that in 2016 27% of the people who were married decided to go on a long-term assignment without their partner. And why did they do that? The number one reason was concerns related to the partner or spouse’s career and work opportunities.

What we also know from the Global Mobility Trend Survey is that 83% of the companies participating in the survey feel that spouse and partner concerns have an impact or a significant impact on their ability to attract first choice candidates to their international assignments.

Therefore – speaking from the numbers – you might say, that an important purpose for here we are is to support companies and traveling partners lower the concerns related to career issues of accompanying partners by enhancing more dual career opportunities.

But, what do we know about career opportunities for accompanying partners?

We know that 16% of traveling partners and spouses were employed before and during assignment, while 49% were employed prior to assignment but not during the assignment (numbers are illustrated below). At first glance that can seem like a massive waste of resources. If 49% of traveling partners used to work, but do not work during an assignment, imagine the extra value we can utilise, if we can help a larger number of partners stay professional abroad.

Employment status of the spouse/partner accompanying the assignee











What the statistics cannot show us is, how many partners stay un-employed during assignment out of choice.

Also the statistics say nothing about the number of partners who choose to maintain their professional identity during an assignment by participation in volunteer work or professional training.

So, to sum up you can say, that the statistic knowledge we have about accompanying partners is scarce. Therefore here we are is also continuously working to gain more knowledge about today’s partners and the challenges the meet and opportunities they seek abroad.

What we do know at here we are is that staying professional during assignment can have its challenges. Not all locations will give the traveling partner the legal rights to work. Some locations will not even allow the traveling partner to volunteer. We also know that practical issues like language, culture or family practicalities will not always make the opportunities for a working life abroad the same as back at home.

But what we do also know is that there are many ways of maintaining a professional identity while living abroad, seeking employment is just one. While understanding the barriers, here we are also sees the opportunities, and strongly believe that an international assignment can be a career opportunity – also for the traveling partner.

By finding ways to learn, work, volunteer and engage with other professionals, partners will be able to stay professional on assignment and hence keep or maybe even increase their employability in a new location and when returning home.

(1) Source: Global Mobility Trends 2016

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