5 facts about the new generation of expats

Over the course of the last 20 years the transportation and logistics industry has seen continuous growth in the number of employees sent on overseas assignments. Even the many economic crises and shocks only slowed the growth of the number of expatriates temporarily.

Globalisation has been the key driver for this evolution within logistics and transportation, with the developing markets being the main recipient of expatriates. Furthermore, there is a growing appreciation that a diverse, broad and global talent pool is key to successfully growing a global logistics company.

With the growing number of expats, the profile of the traditional expat has changed:

The traditional expat profile

1. Male

2. Aged 25–50

3. Western European or North American

4. Accompanied by his family

5. On a 3-year contract

The future expat profile

1. Male

2. Aged 35–50

3. High diversity with many coming from developing countries

4. Often alone or commuting

5. Short-term contract or local terms

Diversity in the workforce

As outlined above, the logistics industry has witnessed a shift from primarily using professionals with western background to promoting diverse talent from developing markets. This diversity, however, is not reflected in the proportion of female assignees.

Short term assignments

Many companies have moved from the typical 2–3 year assignments to shorter assignments — also driven by cheaper, faster and more reliable transport options. It is more and more common for professionals to commute, and leave the family in the home location.

Localisation and one-way permanent moves

Another major change in recent years is the fact that many employers have started moving expats on to local contracts, and are using one-way permanent moves much more frequently. While this imply less attractive contracts than traditional expatriate contracts it does give the benefit of a more stable job situation for the employee and the opportunity to stay or move to a country or market that he or she likes.


While the traditional expat packages and the people who used to get these positions have seen a big change, many employers in the transport and logistics industry still recognise the power of having a global talent pool to recruit from, internally as well as externally. This provides some great career opportunities and a chances to live and work abroad.

Sources: (link: https://www.santaferelo.com text: Santa Fe Group) report on localisation and (link: https://www.eca-international.com/home text: ECA International).