Professionals looking to work abroad ought to be aware of changing employment with many businesses around the world adopting new working patterns and automation and digitisation having major impacts.

The good news is that many employers in major markets such as the United States, the UK and Australia, are increasingly flexible in the face of demands for better work life balances, but on the other hand they also want more part time or freelance employees.

According to the 2017 edition of the Hays Global Skills Index, which looks at 33 major global economies, employers across Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and parts of the Americas, are doing more to retain and attract skilled talent.

The report shows that more and more employers are adopting new working patterns and responding to workers’ demands for flexibility. In the US the amount of freelance, contract or temporary work has risen from 10% to 15% while European freelancer roles have grown four times faster than total employment in the last five years. These mark profound changes in the traditional view of workforces.

In the Asia Pacific region, Singapore and Australia are among the biggest freelance employers, and total freelancer earnings in the Philippines, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan are among the highest in the world.

‘The greater flexibility afforded to employers and workers and the proliferation of mobile broadband are driving these innovative work patterns, making it easier than ever for businesses and workers to interact, regardless of location,’ the report explains.

Another important finding of this report is that migrants are increasingly well educated. In the US in 2015, nearly half of recent arrivals were educated to university level. In the European Union, the proportion of all people born in another country who were university educated in 2016 was 29%, up from 26% five years earlier.

It also points out that technology and digitisation has had a significant influence on workers, with a growing trend towards a more digital economy. In addition to changes in the way we work, our global workforce has also changed considerably.

And not all changes are positive, with the working age population across all countries forecast to decline by nearly a million as the workforce ages. ‘One such way of resolving this challenge is to continue to embrace skilled migration,’ it suggests.

Indeed, there are now more global migrants than ever before, with 3.3% of the world’s population living in a country other than that of their birth, according to the United Nations.

‘At a time when skilled migration is at the top of both the political and news agenda, it is reassuring to see the benefit that countries receive from an educated workforce. Prosperity and growth depend on people, and without the right skills, businesses and therefore societies can flounder rather than flourish. Skilled migration provides an important and necessary short term resolution to the global skills gap,’ the report points out.

Indeed skilled workers are needed in many countries, especially those like Australia where the working age population is declining. The research suggests that in the 33 countries covered by the index over the next 10 years the working age population in 18 of them will decline by 50 million people, and this is likely to hinder employers looking for skilled workers.

Furthermore, evidence from the European Union, the US and Japan in the last five years suggests that higher skilled workers are in greater demand relative to medium and lower skilled workers.

‘We must ensure a smooth flow of people across all countries where there is demand, especially given that high skill migrants currently tend to concentrate on only a handful of recipient countries,’ the report adds.

It also points out that while technology and automation in the workplace will inevitably eliminate some job categories, they also create demand for new jobs.