British Millennials and Generation Z want to work abroad, confirms British Council and Demos report

British Airways jet taking off

These are anxious times, especially for younger people. Not only is the world pulling in different directions, we now have missiles flying over Hokkaido.

In Britain, its Brexit looming over the country rather than a long-range missile, albeit hanging like smog. It’s toxic, we know it’s there, but we can’t make out its features and what to with it. Even the government is seemingly flummoxed.

A new report, Next Generation UK Survey, produced by think tank Demos for the British Council in September 2017 shows that young people in the UK are worried about Britain’s position in the world, and what it means for their future, revealing that:

  • 68% of young people believe international experience and a global outlook are essential for their personal goals
  • 57% are positive about the effects of globalisation on their own lives
  • 13% have worked abroad, but 56% are ambitious to do so
  • 10% have studied abroad

The report recommended protecting and securing opportunities for young adults travelling, working and studying abroad:

in order to enable all young adults to achieve their potential, opportunities for young adults to engage internationally need to be protected in the Brexit negotiations. Furthermore, due attention must be paid to increasing opportunities so that those who do not typically benefit can participate in them….

These objectives are given weight by evidence that interacting with other countries can be beneficial in a number of respects (though research is fairly limited to the higher education context). For example, research has shown that students who undertake a year abroad during their undergraduate degree are more likely to pursue postgraduate study, secure better paid jobs and have higher incomes; and are less likely to experience unemployment. In addition to making an individual more committed to their degree and enhancing their CV, studying abroad can have a marked impact on personal development, improving independence, confidence, communication skills and other intercultural skills – with often greater benefits ensuing when the cultural difference between the home country is wider. Young adults who study internationally often become more cosmopolitan, taking more of an interest in international affairs; they travel more and are more likely to live in another country later in life.

These are sound recommendations. Studying abroad worked for me: I was an Erasmus student in Madrid during more fortunate times, though I later headed East to Asia, rather than to continental Europe, to live.

The aspirations of young people also echoed words made by Sir Martin Sorrell, who encouraged young Brits to acquire work experience in China.

It’s clear that young people are concerned about what’s coming next,  but are nonetheless eager to explore new horizons. This should be given priority in Brexit discussions, rather than trivial considerations like the colour of the new British passport (which is beyond stupid).

The Next Generation UK Survey is part of the British Council’s Next Generation series, which focuses on the attitudes and aspirations of young people, and uses data gathered to inform policy.

The survey’s data came from almost 2,000 18-30 year olds polled by Ipsos Mori, focus groups with 80 young adults across the UK, analysis of young adults’ use of social  media, and a policy roundtable with stakeholders focused on youth engagement.

Berlin is the best city worldwide for digital nomads, shows surprising survey

Berlin

Vancouver took top spot recently in PeoplePerHour’s index of the best cities worldwide to launch a startup. The freelance marketplace also turned their attention to the location independent movement – digital nomads who work remotely, wherever they fancy.

The Nomad Index ranked cities on factors that included co-working spaces, monthly salary, tourist visa requirement, crime rates and cost of living, giving top spot to Berlin.

The German capital, coming second worldwide behind Vancouver for startups (clearly, it can do no wrong), was recognised for its outstanding co-working facilities, relatively low rent and cost of living, and a low crime rate.

Other cities in the top 10 look a little more questionable, with the likes of Istanbul, Bangalore and Bangkok coming ahead of established digital nomad favourites like Ko Lanta, Chiang Mai, Jeju and Bali.

How is it, for example, that Kuala Lumpur ranks 9th, with northern neighbour and more digital nomad friendly Penang nowhere to be seen?:

1. Berlin
2. Istanbul
3. Bangalore
4. Vancouver
5. Lisbon
6. Bangkok
7. San Diego
8. Tel Aviv
9. Kuala Lumpur
10. Athens
11. Manchester
12. Melbourne
13. Miami
14. Moscow
15. Amsterdam
16. Stockholm
17. LA
18. Tokyo
19. Sydney
20. London
21. Rome
22. Singapore
23. NYC
24. Paris
25. San Francisco

Xenios Thrasyvoulou, founder and CEO of PeoplePerHour, meanwhile has done his bit for brand Britain, pointing out the attractiveness of London and Manchester as digital nomad locations (though where Brexit fits into all of this is anyone’s guess):

While British digital nomads may not place visiting London and Manchester high on their bucket list, it’s good to know that the UK is ready to accommodate overseas freelancers with a taste for travel, which has the potential to terrifically boost local economies. And of course, there’s nothing stopping local freelancers benefiting from the perks available to the travelling gigsters

Vancouver is the best city worldwide for startups, reveals PeoplePerHour

Vancouver skyline

With seemingly everyone wanting to disrupt or launch something these days (how different things were in the nineties, when we all had hobbies and adult learning to entertain us), where is best to start The Next Big Thing?

Vancouver, apparently.

The Canadian city ranked first in an index compiled by PeoplePerHour, who assessed locations worldwide on quality of life, cost of living, rent, office space, monthly salary, starting a business and best country for business.

The list shows that smaller cities have triumphed against “goliaths” like Singapore, London, New York, Tokyo and Paris, who all sit in the bottom half of the table (and will probably face relegation unless they become more affordable).

It confirms what many of us suspect: it’s easier to start a business when you’re not saddled with high living costs and rent.

Unsurprisingly, Berlin is best in Europe, Bangkok is top in Asia (though digital nomad hotspot Chiang Mai can’t be far behind), and Melbourne – which generally does well in quality of life surveys – is Australia’s highest showing.

And how about Manchester? A capital of creativity in England, the city came third – much like its football teams – well ahead of the swaggering UK capital:

1. Vancouver
2. Berlin
3. Manchester
4. Lisbon
5. Stockholm
6. San Diego
7. Bangkok
8. Melbourne
9. LA
10. Bangalore
11. Kuala Lumpur
12. Singapore
13. Istanbul
14. London
15. Sydney
16. Tel Aviv
17. Amsterdam
18. Miami
19. Athens
20. Moscow
21. San Francisco
22. NYC
23. Tokyo
24. Paris
25. Rome

Selling to people in cashless China? There’s an app for that

Young Asian woman

Queueing at the Post Office for renminbi? You might want to pack a spare power bank instead. China is becoming a cashless society, thanks to the phenomenal rise of digital wallets Alipay and WeChat Pay linked to Chinese bank cards.

Hardly a week goes by without an account emerging somewhere online of a Chinese taxi driver / noodle vendor / street artist / landlord accepting payments through the phone. It’s ubiquitous. A Shanghai friend tells me no one carries cash in her city anymore, and even her granny is a convert. There’s also a “Cashless Day” on 8 August to perhaps convince remaining luddites, though quite what’s in store for that is anyone’s guess (bonfires of paper currency?). 

The numbers are eye-watering, as you might expect of the world’s most populous nation. WeChat Pay, the payment wallet inside the WeChat app, is used by 600 million people (equivalent to 10 United Kingdoms). Alipay is just behind with more than 450 million users.

Considering that many of us in 2017 are still scribbling in chequebooks, and digging out coins from the back of the sofa (although there are signs of change – no pun intended), China’s advances are impressive.

It also means that if you’re looking to visit China’s big cities, or selling goods and services to people, it’s best to keep in mind their preference for mobile.

In the UK, high-street shops have been catering for Chinese visitors for some time, with the likes of Selfridges, Holland & Barrett, The Body Shop and Harrods all accepting Alipay in their stores.

Tourism organisations are also getting in the act: in July, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo joined WeChat Pay as part of its goal to offer online ticketing for Chinese visitors, and later take the military showcase to China in 2020.

If you’re a running an online store, meanwhile, selling afternoon tea products (and why not – they’re in demand in China!), you might want to consider the online payments platform provided by Stripe.

The fintech startup recently announced a deal to help online retailers worldwide sell more easily to people in China. Users may reportedly now activate Alipay and WeChat Pay on their dashboard and accept payments from either system.

Amidst much talk about  the “Belt and Road” initiative – or a new Silk Road forged across land and sea – it seems as if the biggest trade routes between China and the rest of the world are being developed through mobile technology, something we can all relate to.

Paul Burrell in China as Downton Abbey effect continues

Chinese girl curtsying to Paul Burrell

One of the more interesting outcomes of the internet revolution in recent years has been China’s continued fascination with British culture.

Merlin, Silk, Hustle, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock, Black Mirror, Dr Who, North and South, and The White Queen among others have all been lapped up by young Chinese viewers in their millions through digital platforms like Youku and Iqiyi. The popularity of British telly is such that Mr Bean was recently reprised for a Chinese production.

But one cultural export in particular has spawned a new trend among China’s new rich. Call it the Downton Abbey effect. Not only did the popular period drama help boost sales of afternoon tea products from the UK, it also led to increased demand for butlers.

Great Scott, Jeeves! You?

No butler has an arguably spiffier CV than Paul Burrell. Perhaps better known in UK households for appearing on Celebrity Big Brother, Paul served the British Royal Households for 21 years, becoming personal attendant to Her Majesty The Queen and later butler to the Prince and Princess of Wales.

It doesn’t get more Downton Abbeyesque than that, and Paul (or is it Mr Burrell, or even Mr Burrell, RVM?) was in China last month to share his Royal Etiquette expertise in different sessions with local audiences that included ladies, children and business people.

Paul Burrell and etiquette students in Guangzhou

The training, organised at the Ritz Carlton in Guangzhou by etiquette specialists Prestige Education Consultancy (PEC), focused on dress styling, manners and behaviour, skills gained at the very highest level by Paul Burrell and useful for mingling with the global elite.

Paul Burrell delivering etiquette training in Guangzhou

In an increasingly competitive and “globalised” world, China’s ambitious – as in any nation – will look for an edge beyond a solid grasp of English. A student in Danong today might well become a speaker in Davos tomorrow. Anyone thinking about teaching English in China ought to consider the cultural dimension on top of language tuition.

But of course, this is a two-way street. Anyone looking to make friends and influence people in China should do the sensible thing and learn from the Chinese.

That means not only taking a course in putonghua but also making an attempt to understand their culture, from guanxi to mianzi, baijiu and beyond. It’s a steep learning curve, but so is learning which spoon to use at the dinner table (I still can’t get it right).

We can and should learn from each other – that’s when the good stuff happens. Now, who is China’s equivalent of Paul Burrell?