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Are There Schools for My Children? The Value of Research for Talent Mobility

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In a business environment where there is a universal focus on cost, talent mobility is critical.  Attracting prime candidates and keeping them, require strategic policies.  Expatriate failure, the premature return of the expatriate manager to his/her home country, is expensive – by some estimates, as much as three times the expatriate’s annual salary, plus the cost of relocation (impacted by currency exchange rates and assignment location.)

One of the most frequently cited reasons for candidate non-acceptance and expatriate return, is family concerns. Family-friendly policies should include pre-decision and on-assignment support that includes information relating to school choices in the new location. This is further supported by the current expatriate profile:

  • 71% of international assignees are between the ages of 30-49 years old
  • 74% are married
  • 80% of assignees take their spouses
  • 52% have accompanying children

A recent corporate group move to Doha, Qatar provided an opportunity to proactively anticipate the concerns of the potential expatriates. The company provided education research and schooling information as a tool for recruiting and transitioning families. Removing the ‘fear factor’ about schools is empowering for parents who are faced with navigating career and family in a successful direction.

Schooling challenges in Doha include:

  • many schools opening, but admission to popular ones locked by specific admissions priorities.
  • demand for international schools fueled not only by the influx of expats, but also wealthy Qataris who believe “Western” curriculum to be advantageous.   
  • difficulty in determining the quality of new schools
  • different types of curricula; national, international and hybrid, with which expatriates are not familiar
  • Qatari government monitoring and imposing frequent changes of rules, even for historically international schools

This comprehensive research report effectively assures assisting transitioning families with children that the company is listening to their needs. Accurate research provides the depth and scope needed, enabling employees with different preferences and situations to understand options and possible limitations.

From the research side, getting accurate data is not simple. Interviews with local school administration, government websites and on-the-ground consultants are required to triangulate a true representation of what families can expect in the new location.

The report maps schooling choices and manages education expectations in Doha for children from preschool age through grade 12. Additionally the user-friendly format with tables, links and maps gives HR an invaluable and easy to use reference for quickly finding answers for families.

Building trust with families results in a sense of loyalty and, ultimately, impacts a company’s retention, bottom line and overall happiness quotient. Now that’s a good investment in talent mobility!

Polly Rodriguez, PhD
Global Education Consulting Services
polly.rodriguez@schoolchoiceintl.com

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