The Global Talent Imperative: 6 Key Takeaways

November 14, 2019 Nidhi Madhavan

What employers need to know about global talent in today’s competitive landscape

We know that employment-based immigration helps employers fill roles and mitigate skills gaps, but the role of global talent is becoming increasingly complex and vital to the success of the U.S. and world economy. In the latest report from Envoy INSIGHTS, The Global Talent Imperative, we aim to uncover key trends in talent mobility and present solutions for organizations in pursuit of the best candidates.

Six key findings from Envoy’s Global Talent Imperative:

Immigration is and will continue to be a key driver of U.S. economic growth and competitiveness, especially in the innovation sector.

Immigrants strengthen the U.S. economy in a multitude of ways. According to the Partnership for a New American Economy, immigrant households contributed $405 billion in taxes in 2018. Yet the benefits of immigration go well beyond tax contributions: first-generation immigrants started 30% of all new businesses created in 2016, according to Inc. Furthermore, high-skilled immigration has been responsible for some of the most significant inventions of the past three decades. In 2017 alone, immigrant inventors were responsible for 29% of all patents filed in the U.S.

The U.S. and world economy are facing an unprecedented shortage of skilled workers.

The global talent shortage is now undeniable. According to a report from McKinsey, there will be a shortage of over 40 million highly-skilled workers worldwide by 2020. The U.S. faces its own dearth of talent: according to the Smithsonian STEM Imperative, there were a projected 2.4 million unfilled STEM jobs in the U.S. at the end of 2018. These skills gaps combined with record-low unemployment rates have created challenging hiring conditions for U.S. companies, particularly those in industries undergoing digital transformation. 

Higher Education is one of the key drivers for high-skilled migration into the U.S., but declining international student enrollments are concerning.

Despite making up just four percent of the total student enrollment at U.S. universities, international students account for a significant share of those who graduate with STEM degrees in important fields such as computer science and engineering. In addition, international students contributed $39 billion to the U.S. economy in 2018. However, studies show that the U.S. could be falling behind other countries, such as Canada, in its ability to attract and retain international students. Expanding campus recruiting and building a strategic mobility program for existing employees will become crucial for employers as the demand for high-skilled tech jobs increases.

Download the full Global Talent Imperative report from Envoy INSIGHTS to examine the impact of global talent on individual firms, cities, economies and the world.


Leading organizations are realizing that global talent is a two-way strategy: high-skilled U.S.-based employees want international opportunities.

As U.S. companies expand into new regions or embark on other international endeavors, talent needs to hit the ground quickly. According to Envoy’s Trends Report, 80% of non-U.S. assignments were driven by the need for experienced, skilled talent. In addition, global rotation programs are becoming a popular way to engage and retain today’s talent. A study from PwC found that 71% of Millenials want⁠—and expect⁠—overseas assignments from their employers. Short-term rotations in key international offices are becoming more popular as a way to develop high-potential employees and ensure that talent and culture is being spread across an organization effectively.

Global talent is not just about filling skills gaps; employee diversity and multicultural teams have been proven to outperform homogeneous teams.

Aside from filling critical roles at their organizations, foreign national employees improve productivity by bringing much-needed diversity to their teams. According to a McKinsey study, ethnically diverse companies outperform industry norms by 35 percent, making diversity a CEO and board-level priority. Companies with diverse experiences and backgrounds foster more innovation that results in better products as well. In a study of 450 multinational corporations, Josh Bersin Research found that the inclusives were 1.7 times more likely to be innovative leaders in their market. Meanwhile, diversity also improves recruitment and retention. One study from Glassdoor found that 67% of job seekers said that a diverse workforce is important when considering job offers.

Business and HR leaders can take concrete actions to better harness and retain global talent regardless of their size or industry.

Global talent is imperative to the success and competitiveness of U.S. companies, but to capitalize on these opportunities, immigration and mobility needs to become a strategic focus for organizations. Alignment between leadership and human resources will also prove to be essential if companies want to effectively mobilize and retain talent across borders.

Get four actionable steps to improve your organization’s access, retention and mobilization of global talent by downloading the full Global Talent Imperative report from Envoy INSIGHTS.


Envoy is pleased to provide you this information, which was prepared in collaboration with Sara Herbek, who is Managing Partner at Global Immigration Associates, P.C. (www.giafirm.com), Envoy's affiliated law firm.

Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an Envoy-retained attorney or another qualified professional.

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