Migration Motivations: Unravelling the Push and Pull for Today's Global Talent - High Skilled Migrants

Migration Motivations: Unravelling the Push and Pull for Today's Global Talent - High Skilled Migrants

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The competition to attract the best global talent has intensified in recent years. The rankings for 2023 showcase a dynamic shift in how attractive various countries are to highly skilled migrants, entrepreneurs, and students. Over the coming weeks, we will explore these categories in greater detail, starting with highly skilled migrants.

High Skilled Migrants

In 2023, the top five countries for highly skilled migrants include New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, Australia, and Norway. Notably, except for Norway, all were in the top five in 2019. The shift sees New Zealand advancing to the top spot from fourth in 2019, attributed to its outstanding performance across the board. Both Sweden and Switzerland remain coveted destinations due to their family-friendly policies, high standards of living, and potent skills ecosystem. Despite dropping to fourth from first, Australia remains competitive; a reflection of the minor differences in scores among the top five nations. Conversely, countries like the United States and Canada, which would have ranked significantly higher, are penalized due to restrictive visa and admission policies.

Emerging entrants to the top ten include Luxembourg and the United Kingdom, ascending to sixth and seventh, respectively. This growth owes much to amendments in their visa and admission conditions, with the UK abolishing its cap on highly skilled workers and displaying positive integration outcomes for foreign skilled workers. Simultaneously, Ireland, affected by longer visa processing times, slid from sixth to twelfth.

Some countries, such as Estonia and Austria, have witnessed a decline in their attractiveness due to various factors ranging from low wages for highly skilled professionals, unwelcoming attitudes, prolonged visa processing times, or unfavourable employment scenarios. Contrarily, France has seen a rise attributed to reduced visa refusal rates.

Mexico, Türkiye, Costa Rica, and Colombia find themselves at the lower end, although they do score well in terms of income and tax, due to their low tax burdens and cost of living.


Push Factors for High Skilled Migrants:

  • Stagnant Career Paths: In economies that are either stagnant or receding, professionals often find a lack of meaningful upward mobility. The challenge of underemployment, where one’s skills are underutilized, becomes a pressing concern.
  • Economic Instability: Unpredictable economic fluctuations not only threaten job security but also erode the purchasing power of salaries. This uncertainty can deter even the most dedicated professionals from committing to their home countries.
  • Professional Development Gaps: The globalized world is moving fast, and professionals seek to keep pace. A lack of access to contemporary training and international networking events can hold back ambitious individuals.


Pull Factors for High Skilled Migrants:

  • Industry Hubs: Locations that have become synonymous with specific industries, like Silicon Valley for tech or Hollywood for entertainment, aren’t just about jobs. They’re about immersing oneself in a culture of innovation and continuous growth.
  • Competitive Compensation: Beyond a good salary, developed nations often offer comprehensive benefits packages, a higher quality of life, and opportunities for personal and professional growth.
  • Learning and Networking: Opportunities to upskill, to collaborate with industry leaders, and to be part of cutting-edge projects can be a significant draw.


In 2023, countries like New Zealand and Sweden have proven to be a beacon for these professionals, offering both quality of life and professional fulfilment. On the other hand, even powerhouse countries like the US and Canada faced challenges due to policy constraints.

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