New forms of global mobility among workers are set to become the norm as employers aim to maximise their growth around the world

More workers will be taking on global assignments over the next seven years as companies re-think where their talent needs to be based to fulfil their growth ambitions.

The prediction, made in PricewaterhouseCoopers' 'Talent Mobility: 2020 and beyond' report, comes as firms are starting to wake up to the fact that they don't have the right talent in the right places.

Skills shortages, changing business needs and employee preferences are just some of the problems facing businesses at present.

PwC therefore expects companies to offer new forms of global mobility in the coming years, leading to a 50% increase in the number of workers taking on assignments around the world in the next decade.

The research reveals that only 1% of people are now doing traditional assignments which involve three years in a different country and then returning home, something which Carol Stubbings, UK international assignment services leader at PwC, believes is an indication of things to come.

"The era where assignments meant a three or four year relocation is coming to an end," she said.

"New forms of global mobility are developing in response to business demands and employee preferences, many of which don't involve relocation at all. Long-distance commuting, virtual mobility, project-based and assignee-led projects are all set to become the norm.

"Skills gaps in overseas markets, the changing business world and preferences of a new generation of employees will force many organisations to increase global mobility opportunities for their staff."

The number of mobile workers, including long-distance commuters - who spend a week or two at a time in another country - has increased in recent years and now account for around 8% of the working population.

At the same time, the average length of a posting has dropped to 18 months while the number of females taking on global assignments is predicted to increase. PwC expects women to make up over a quarter of all assignees by 2020.

Some 15% of organisations were found to be unable to achieve growth forecasts in overseas markets due to talent constraints, leading to 64% of them changing their approach to global mobility.

Copyright Press Association 2013