Tag Archives: Expat Schooling

NY Totally Expat Show

Author:
Warren Heaps – Birches Group LLC

Have you heard about the Totally Expat Show sponsored by the Forum for Expatriate Management? This group has hosted several very successful exhibitions designed for global mobility professionals.

This year, the International HR Forum will be represented at the New York Show on April 3rd.  Birches Group LLC will have a booth in the Exhibition Hall — stop by and introduce yourself as one of our loyal readers.

Check out the details on our NY Totally Expat Show page.

When you register, please be sure to mention you saw the event on the International HR Forum!  And if you want to, leave a comment if you will be there, so we can look for you.

New York Totally Expat Show – April 3, 2012

Join us at the New York Totally Expat Show on 3 April

The Forum for Expatriate Management’s Totally Expat Show will be returning to New York on 3 April 2012. We will also be visiting Chicago for our Mid West Show on 1 June 2012.

  •  North East USA at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York on 3rd April 2012 – Register to Attend
  • Mid West USA at the Sheraton Hotel & Towers in Chicago on 1st June 2012 – Register to Attend

The International HR Forum is a proud partner organization of The Forum for Expatriate Management, and Birches Group LLC will be attending the New York Totally Expat Show on 3 April 2012. Do come along and visit us. With over 500  attendees, this is likely to be the biggest Global Mobility event  ever held in New York.

These truly unique global mobility events will include a major exhibition with a large number of leading service providers and a rolling program of seminars (which will be certified by HRCI for GPHR credits).

Entry is entirely FREE for corporate HR professionals.  Just  Register to Attend!

Service Providers can attend for just $290 for FEM Members ($350 for non-Members). Just Register to Attend!

Topics to be covered are listed below.  For full descriptions of the topics, see the seminar program.   Additional speakers and topics will be announced shortly.

  • Meet the Experts – Global Immigration Compliance Trends
    Experts from Fragomen and other leading specialists
  • Latest Trends in Global Mobility Policy and Practices
    Debra Frost, Vice President, Client Services, Cartus
    William Sheridan, Vice President, National Foreign Trade Council
  • Business Process Automation in Global Mobility
    Mark Rabe, VP Business Development, Equus Software
  • US Reporting Requirements for Foreign Assets – What Global Mobility Managers need to know
    Beth Penfold and Katrina Haynes, Grant Thornton
  • An Overview for Companies new to Expatriation
    Pat Jurgens, Director of Tax for AIRINC
  • Emerging Trends in Global Mobility Transformation
    Glen Collins, Senior Manager, International Executive Services, KPMG
  •  Technology and Global Mobility – The Next Generation
    Frank Patitucci, CEO NuCompass Mobility
  • Strategic Intercultural Support: Insuring the ROI on the International Assignment
    Dean Foster, President and founder, DFA Intercultural Global Solutions
  • Is Cross Cultural Training really worth it?
    Diane McGreal, Director Berlitz Global Leadership Training, Americas Region
  •  Spousal assistance : overview of best practices based on a global sampling of 200 multinational corporations
    Alain Verstandig, President and Denise Michelle Starrett, Senior Consultant NET EXPAT Inc
  • Managing the Global Mobility Function
    Brian Friedman, Founder and CEO, Forum for Expatriate Management

Register to Attend!

 Just these Corporate Attendees

AIG * Amphenol TCS * Associated Press * AXA Equitable * Axiom Law * BNP Paribas * Boehringer Ingelheim * Bunge Limited * Citibank * Citicorp * Coach * Columbia University * Corning Incorporated * Covance Inc. * Criteo * D&B * Deloitte * Discovery Communications * Dragados USA * DSM Services USA * Fidessa corporation * Foot Locker Inc. * Harris * HSBC * IBM * ING Financial Services * Ingersoll Rand Company * JPMorgan Chase * KPMG LLP * Marsh & McLennan Companies * MetLife * Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP * Morgan Stanley * Nielsen * Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation * NYSE Euronext * NYU * PTC * Ralph Lauren * Resources Global Professionals * Sikorsky Aircraft Corporate * Sony Music Entertainment * Teach For All * Terex Corporation * The Hershey Company * The NPD Group Inc. * The Royal Bank of Scotland * Tiffany * Towers Watson * Toys’R'Us * UNDP * Unilever * United Technologies Corporation * White & Case LLP * William J. Clinton Foundation *

Localization: Impact on Children’s Education

Author:
Liz Perelstein – School Choice International

Localization of expatriates is becoming more and more common, as companies try to reduce the numbers of assignees and control costs.  Many companies wrestle with the question of dependent education when dealing with localization.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of localization policies oversimplify the issues and therefore do not adequately address employee or employer needs.

Most often, there is either an immediate cut-off of education assistance, or a phasing out of tuition assistance; in either case, the family either has to fund the private school themselves or transition their children into local public or state-funded schools.  Both approaches assume that the local alternative will be adequate for the needs of the family, but there can often be complicating factors.

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Localizing Expatriates – Trap or Solution?


Author:
Warren Heaps – Birches Group LLC

Expats are expensive. With more and more focus on the cost of international assignments, companies are looking for ways to reduce expenses. The challenge is finding the most effective way to do it.

I believe one of the alternatives companies should consider is to simply reduce the number of expats! But this is easier said than done.

Localization is one approach which can be used to achieve this goal, but it’s hard to get it right.  Let’s look at some approaches and pitfalls when considering localization.

Localization Approaches
One of the most common approaches to localization is to convert the expat to local terms and conditions, and provide a phase-down of expat allowances and benefits.  For example, the expat would receive a salary according to the host country salary scale and participate in the host country benefits.  During a transition period (usually one to three years), the employee also would get some expat benefits.  This usually includes a transition allowance which provides the full net difference for a year, reducing in equal installments to zero after three years.  In addition, companies often provide continued schooling assistance for several years.

Some of the challenges with this approach are in the areas of benefits, taxes, immigration, schooling and housing.

  • Retirement Benefits – Companies face the issues of different levels of benefits, bridging of service, and shortfalls in both the home and host social security plans. Careful attention and analysis is required to resolve these issues.
  • Health Care - Many expats have coverage under global plans. When localization occurs they switch to local coverage. How does the local plan measure up? What about pre-existing conditions? College-age dependents at home? What if the local plan is not adequate when compared to the prior coverage? Some organizations allow continued coverage under the global plan in these cases.
  • Taxes – Many companies provide tax preparation assistance to newly localized staff (but not equalization). You should also be aware of trailing tax liabilities generated by incentive pay and equity compensation.  In some cases, equalization may be appropriate.
  • Immigration – Laws must be consulted to ensure expats can remain employed legally in the host country, and family members can stay in-country. This is one of the most critical issues to address, since mistakes can result in severe consequences.  In some cases, long-term expats can get permanent residence, which may also provide opportunities for spousal employment.
  • Schooling - Assimilation and adjustment of the family is a key to a successful localization. Schooling for the kids is often the biggest challenge, especially if the host country language is different from the home, or if local schools have lower standards or different curriculum options than the international schools. Many companies provide generous support for schooling during a transition period, aiming to prevent disruption in studies, especially for older students. Consulting with educational specialists, such as School Choice International, can be a very effective way to assist employees in making the best choices.
  • Housing -This is the other major element of the expat package that dramatically impacts the expat and family, and can be quite contentious.  Expat housing standards are often much more generous than local standards, and are located in the most desirable and expensive neighborhoods.  Localized expats may not be able to afford housing in the same locations.  Companies can provide limited assistance for a local move, as well as a shipment of goods from home. Assistance with buying a home is another benefit to consider.

Saving on Expat Costs
Localization generates savings for the company when the cost of local salary and benefits is less than the expat package. When calculating the savings, don’t forget to consider the cost of transition benefits (including any tax gross-ups). You may find the savings to be elusive for the first few years.

Useful Tools
One excellent tool to help employers calculate localization costs is the Permanent Transfer Calculator from Airinc. This tool calculates the net differences for all of the key package elements and illustrates the level of transition benefits needed. It is a very useful tool which enables companies to make informed decisions when localizing staff.

Other Considerations
The most common localization options are usually applied in host locations such as the US and Western Europe.  It is usually easier to localize staff in higher wage locations, and in developed countries.  Some companies localize staff in lower-wage locatio ns in the developing world, but these cases can be very challenging and demotivating for staff.  In addition, family assimilation can be much more difficult.

Companies sometimes localize staff only to re-expatriate them a few years later. This is generally a bad practice and causes a lot of confusion, especially for retirement benefits.  Instead, look at your career and succession planning and evaluate the chances of another expat assignment in the future. It may be more practical to consider reduced allowances instead of full localization in these situations.

Finally, always consult with your legal counsel when changing terms and conditions for expats. In many countries, laws limit the ability to reduce compensation.

Summary
Localization can be a useful technique to save money and reduce expat costs. Careful analysis and planning is required to make it work, and attention to family transitions is essential for success.

Five Facts About International Schooling

 

Author:
Liz Perelstein – School Choice International

Most companies sending employees overseas offer some kind of cross-cultural training.  But we rarely think of cross- cultural training for school children, even though education can be a make or break issue for many families considering an overseas assignment.

As you can see from the facts below, even expats who send their children to international schools encounter cultural differences that may be significant, and may clash with family customs.  Schools – local and even international – are a microcosm of the culture they inhabit.  Without understanding the host country’s educational system children can be disadvantaged in the admissions arena, in academic performance and in the ease of transition.

Consider these facts:

1) Did you know that 8th graders in Belgium, Korea and Japan do not use calculators in math classes?

Curriculum differences like these make it hard for children trained on calculators to adapt to local mathematics instruction in these countries.

2) Did you know that German parents give their children a Schultuete, or a cone filled with treats on the day they start first grade?

Children unfamiliar with local customs can feel awkward or embarrassed, affecting the transition to their new school.

3) Did you know that in Brazil children either go to school in the morning OR in the afternoon?

Spouses may find it difficult to work in countries with a school schedule alien to them.

4) Did you know that Saudi Arabia is enforcing a law that requires expat children to attend a school of their own nationality?

Many families choose a curriculum other than their national curriculum, often to preserve curriculum continuity with former or future schooling.

5) Did you know that admissions for 4-to-10 year olds for New York City independent schools requires an entrance examination that is ONLY administered in New York City?

Admissions opportunities may be limited for children if parents are unaware of requirements.

To learn more about educational customs in different parts of the world, visit our School Choice International blog or our Fact of the Week Collection.

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International HR Forum Year in Review 2009 – Best of Expatriates and International Assignments

This is the second of our three-part “Best of …” series, where we will feature links to our best posts on selected topics. This part is focused on Expatriates and International Assignments.  We will publish one more “Best of …” posting, featuring content about Leadership Development and Cross-Cultural topics, before the new year.  If you missed the first post about Compensation and Benefits, you can take a look at it here.

The posts below are some of the most popular ones featured on the International HR Forum.

We hope you find these summary posts to be a helpful way to explore some of the best content on our blog.

Best of Expatriates and International Assignments from the 2009 Archives of the International HR Forum:

Impact of Assignments to Remote Locations on Children’s Education

Photo Liz Perelstein (2) Author:
Liz Perelstein – School Choice International

As businesses expand more and more into developing markets, companies are often facing new challenges in finding appropriate schools for the children of their international assignees.  In some locations, schools haven’t caught up with demand for international education; in others, there simply might not be any international schooling options at all.  Now more than ever, local schools are an option, but you need to be well-prepared for such an approach to work.

Schooling is a Top Priority
Assignees often state that having access to good quality schools for their children is the most important factor in deciding to accept an assignment.  Parents are more uneasy than ever about relocating with children when international schools are not available.  By gaining some understanding of the local educational system and curriculum differences in countries where you send employees, you will be in a better position to create policies that provide children with access to reasonable education.

Consider these facts:
Some local schools in India consider handwriting so important that teachers may not consider content if handwriting falls short of expectations.

  1. A study by the University of New Hampshire indicates in many European countries, parental involvement is not permitted.
  2. So-called “International Schools” may not be truly international.  Instead, they may be targeted towards local children to help them acquire language and other skills to promote attendance at US universities and/or may exist for children whose parents do not want them to attend local schools.
  3. In some countries, schools “stream” students into tracks as early as 12 years old, and this could affect the ability to gain admission to universities in other countries.  Admissions decisions based on an “entry examination” or prerequisites make this a clear challenge for those who do not have the language or curriculum background.
  4. Religious education is a fundamental part of national curriculum in many countries, such as Ireland.  This may meet an unenthusiastic response from families not accustomed to such arrangements, or those that practice a different religion.  And, even if considered acceptable, students may not have the religious background to fit in.
  5. Special education is handled in varied ways throughout the world, from mainstream educational options in the United States, to China, where few schools have an open-minded approach, and few teachers are taught to teach children with learning or other disabilities.

Language is the main obstacle that many companies are aware of when evaluating local school choices, but integrating families into a local educational system where goals, philosophies and methods are so dissimilar requires a different type of preparation on the part of the family, and a more flexible policy on the part of the company.

Tips for Success:
Here is a short checklist which is useful to help companies and assignees examine educational options for any overseas assignment, as well as for their eventual return home:

  • Before moving a family, allow them time and means to review curriculum of the school in the host country, and discuss it with teachers back home.  Evaluating where a child may be ahead or behind enables parents and schools to develop programs that assist in entry as well as re-entry.
  • Recommend that families bring along books, course outlines and any other aids to maintaining academic skills required at home so that kids can keep abreast of knowledge required for repatriation.
  • Find out the exit requirements for schools in the home country before leaving.  These, in particular, will determine curriculum to continue studying while abroad.   Can these be satisfied on assignment, and if so, what kind of policy do you need to support these additional costs?
  • Decide what kinds of supplemental or alternative education your company will allow to reduce hardship for children whose families are sent on assignment, particularly at key grade levels.  These may include tutoring, on-line courses, summer school, home schooling or boarding schools.
  • If schooling is totally incompatible, is it possible for the employee or the family to repatriate either a year earlier or later, as appropriate to facilitate the transition?
  • Provide opportunity for students to become proficient in reading and writing as well as speaking of the new language well before the move; in fact, as soon as the move is announced is best.
  • Engage a professional who understands discrepancies in curriculum as well as culture to recommend individualized support so that students can be prepared before returning home.
  • Repatriation is always difficult for children, since even international schools teach different curriculum, have different course sequences, and offer different languages and promote different viewpoints when teaching history.   Children who have attended local schools in remote areas may be more significantly unprepared to attend school back home or enroll in university in their home country.  Be sure to pay careful attention to home country requirements before assignments begin.

Conclusion:
School choices for expatriate children are always challenging, and even more so in locations where the traditional choices are limited or non-existent.  Families who have overcome these obstacles and successfully educated their children in local schools find the rewards to be significant.  Children truly learn new languages, cultures and curricular subjects and enjoy an unprecedented window into the customs of a different country.  As schools are a microcosm of the cultures they inhabit, children raised in local schools abroad can be our true ambassadors in the global world of the next generation.

Providing support in the form of tutoring, on-line learning and language instruction is a key consideration companies should consider when developing policies to support your employees in remote locations.  Inviting parents to reframe their definition of education as learning rather than schooling is the key to promoting the right attitude for a successful assignment.

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Recalling Expats? Handle with Care

Photo Liz Perelstein (2)Author:
Liz Perelstein – School Choice International

“In recent months, companies have begun recalling expats from multiyear assignments up to 12 months early… The CEO of a Pacific Northwest manufacturer (who requested his publicly traded company’s name not be used) is pulling his European division manager home after only eight months of a two-year assignment because the business can’t continue to foot the $500,000 annual bill for his salary and living expenses.”  -Workforce.com, March 16, 2009

Education is a top priority for middle class families in every culture worldwide, and always has been.  This is true of 32,200 Tamil school girls praying before entering examinations in Madurai, Chinese families who have pinned all of their hopes and dreams on their sole child, and parents in the Northeastern part of the United States who are still, according to The New York Times blog The Choice (July 18), willing to spend $40,000 on college placement counselors for their children despite the economy.  This results in scarcity of suitable school options in major cities globally.  Even if there are vacancies in less popular schools, those that are generally considered “top tier” are overbooked no matter what the economic situation.

As a result, repatriation, which always is difficult, brings additional challenges when it is sudden and forces families to seek schooling for their children mid-year, particularly under rushed and stressful circumstances.  In addition to the logistical challenges involved in gaining admission to schools, children are excluded from extracurricular activities – the cricket team already has been chosen, as has the cast of the play – essential aspects of re-entry if they are to successfully make friends and reintegrate into their home cultures. Repatriation to one’s former home is particularly difficult, according to The Art of Crossing Cultures by Craig Storti, because expectations and reality clash.  When employees are moved home without sufficient notice, they, and their families, do not have sufficient time to process the emotional aspects of the repatriation so it is all the more important that they receive assistance with the logistics of the school search and transition, as together both aspects are quite overwhelming.

Regardless of the country of repatriation, employers can provide:

  • Accurate and easy to use information in the form of books, research, websites and web based tools;
  • Transition assistance so that families understand that the former school may no longer be the best school for a child given the wealth of experiences s/he has had overseas as well as the curricular differences;
  • Expert help in identifying and getting into schools that meet the unique needs of each child at this point in time;
  • Specialized assistance for children with special needs, gifted children, and those seeking schools in particularly competitive locations.

This is something that companies must think about if their goal is to develop policies that will serve them in good times as well as bad.  Benefits of good support when employees with children are recalled are rapid employee productivity, increased loyalty, talent retention, willingness to take future assignments, and improved morale, which includes encouraging other employees to undertake assignments when needed.

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Accurately Measuring the Price of a New Location

Photo Liz Perelstein (2)Author:
Liz Perelstein –  School Choice International

One of our clients identified a new emerging economy where operating their business would save considerable money.  In this new region property, local labor, and running the plant promised to cost only a fraction of the price of similar variables in their current location.  In order to get the new plant operating successfully, they needed to move 100 families for up to three years to train local employees on their processes and corporate culture.

About to embark upon a group move of the initial families, unanticipated costs surfaced.  The company had previously implemented a policy where it moved families as locals rather than as expats.  As a result, international schools were not budgeted for the current move.  This was a good decision in the previous location. However, in the new country, local residents use private schools whenever possible.  While local private schools may not be as expensive as international schools, they are still a significant expense for a move of 100 families.

Before moving into a new country, learn about the culture of schooling and the impact to your budget.

In some countries, public schools educate the “top” local talent – only students with “problems,” or those who are unlikely to succeed in the public sector attend private school. In others, public schools have poor records of educating students. They may even have chronic union problems, facilities issues, or other structural troubles that deplete the government run educational system on an ongoing basis.  In these areas, parents may use private schools when possible and send their children to public schools only if no alternatives are available.

To identify your educational costs for a group move, picking a location where state schools are viable for local middle class (and higher) residents is a good first step.  However, it is still important to ascertain whether these will be appropriate for non-native families.  Once you have determined the overall culture of public vs. private schooling in your proposed location, compare the school systems that your families are coming from with those they are going.  Are the curricula similar or will children have a hard time adjusting in the new location – as well as repatriating – if they do not attend home national schools?  And finally, are the schools familiar with overseas children so that the transition is reasonable?  Do they work with new families to ensure that the experience will be both academically and socially worthwhile?

If schools are aware, willing, and able, a local education in expatriate destinations can be immensely profitable for many children.  But if you do not ask the right questions before the move, you may find that you have grossly underestimated your costs, or otherwise find yourself with many failed assignments.

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International Schooling – At a Glance

Photo Liz Perelstein (2)Author:
Liz Perelstein –  School Choice International

Educational concerns and the details surrounding them are sometimes overlooked when structuring an expatriate package, but to families moving with children there is no greater obstacle to taking on an assignment or to the potential success of a move.  Here are some examples of information that may make a big difference, either to the employee or employer.

Did you know that private school fees in the UK have risen by 43% since 2003?  (Source found here.)

The best place for raising expat children is:

  • UAE 
  • France 
  • Spain 
  • UK 

Viva España!  In a recent survey conducted by HSBC based on five categories, including the cost of raising children and how much time they spend outdoors, Spain comes first.

Did you know that Canada ranks among the world’s leaders in per capita spending on public education?

Did you know that Cuba spends 9.8% of its GDP on education and the US 5.8%? (Source found here.)

Did you know that 27% of children in India are privately educated?

Please sign up here to receive the Fact of the Week from School Choice International.

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