EU vs. the Far East: Growth, stability and spending power
With skills gaps forming in certain sectors, companies are looking further afield when making new additions to their workforces.
Increased globalisation and a growing number of international trade and labour agreements have enabled talented professionals to seek opportunities in parts of the world that were not accessible in past generations. But where are the best places to look for exciting, well-paid contracts?
EU vs. the Far East
Trade links between members of the European Union (EU) and countries in the Far East have been cemented in recent years. For example, in 2013 the UK government conducted a major trade mission to China, encouraging small businesses in each nation to work more closely together.
Collaborative efforts such as this could lead to more jobs opening up for Europeans in Asia and vice versa and this will certainly put organisations in both continents in a better position to deal with skills shortages. Until recently, many European firms outsourced their manufacturing plants to the Far East, most prominently China, as costs were much lower. In 2013, there were numerous examples of businesses moving their operations back to Europe due to the growing strength of the yuan - a process that is widely referred to as "reshoring".
The EU and Asia were both adversely affected by the global economic downturn in 2008-09, but which region has recovered the strongest and which part of the world is best placed to progress in 2014? This is something that many upwardly mobile professionals and specialists will be eager to find out.
Growth in the EU
According to the European Commission's latest report on the continent's economic prospects, gross domestic product (GDP) in the euro area will expand at a fairly modest one per cent per year over the next decade.
In an introduction to the study, the Commission's Director-General for Economic and Financial Affairs Marco Buti stressed the recovery will be slow and there are not "grounds for excessive optimism". He added that these projections are based on a "do nothing" scenario and the situation could be significantly improved if EU policy makers take action to stimulate greater levels of economic growth.
It is not easy to assess the EU's growth prospects as one single entity. Some countries are performing far better than others and this is something job hunters will need to consider before they decide where they want to be.
Eurostat's recently-published retail trade figures reiterate the point that some nations are reporting strong improvements, whereas others are still feeling the effects of the financial crisis. Portugal, France and Luxembourg recorded the biggest upturn in trade in November 2013 when compared with the previous month, while Germany, Poland and Austria also fared well.
The Far East
Countries in the Far East - most notably Singapore and Malaysia - are expecting significant economic growth in the coming years, as the global demand for oil and gas continues to spiral upwards.
Foreign investors are predicted to pour money into the Asia-Pacific region, which will work in favour of highly skilled professionals looking for contracts in this area. According to the Centre for Economics and Business Research, China will have the world's largest economy by 2028, which is later than many analysts had been anticipating.
A recent article published by Singapore Business Review showed that Standard Chartered believes Singapore's GDP will expand by an impressive 4.4 per cent in 2014. The organisation stated: "This is slightly higher than the government's forecast of [growth between] two and four per cent."
While it appears the Far East has a clear edge over the EU, political uncertainty in certain parts of the region could have a negative impact on growth. This is where many EU countries can benefit from the fact they have stable governments.
It seems the Far East is expected to grow at a faster rate than the EU in the next few years, which could persuade professionals with certain skills to search for lucrative opportunities in places like Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and China.
Much depends on what skills a person has. The demand for people who have worked on major telecommunications projects, for example, is expected to be particularly high in Southeast Asia, while IT specialists should be able to find well-paid roles all over the world.
It is hard to discount one region in favour of the other, as the jobs, infrastructure, employment laws, economic performance and demand for skills can vary between different nations within the same continent.
One thing is for sure, many governments are making it easier for talented foreigners to secure jobs overseas and this will benefit professionals who are looking for a new challenge.