Expat partners : lost talents!


Qualified partners


Today 92% of expat partners are women; the trend is however evolving slowing.

Let’s take a look at the profile of these expat partners and why are we referring to them as “lost talents”, is there possible solutions?

One point I’d like to make straight away: expat partners are talented individuals too!

And very often highly qualified themselves.

For example:

73% of them have a master degree or a PhD in their country of origin*

Science tells us that couples are somewhat alike in their education level:

an expat is a talent so more than likely his/her spouse is as well.

70% of expat partners speak at least 3 languages: what an asset!


Lost talents, why?


Moving and settling in a new country isn’t obvious or simple and anticipating all aspects of the expatriation is not an easy task either.

The expat partner very often is leaving “everything” behind, what happen to her or him?

         Learning the language, the culture, the job market and conditions

         No support network either professional or personal

These are challenges that very often are not anticipated.


80% of them had envisaged pursuing their professional career

but in reality after 1 year less than 1 out 2 expat partners has actually found a job.

A job that doesn’t match fully their level of competency or studies

and often a job that is part time and for which the salary isn’t in line with their qualification.

And these years are also « lost » for their retirement.

The end result is an expatriation project seen as a regression for the spouse.

Their main role becomes support and logistics to the family,

they become the “wife of” or the “husband of”.

Then frustration takes over and the next step is to give it up…

Partners end up staying at home, getting involved in charity work or artistic activities until they go home.


expat partners talents

It can change – it should change!


Is there solution?

Yes, of course!

         First step : Explain that expatriation could be an opportunity and not a constraint.

         Second step : Help them value themselves and provide support that could do it (no only the logistic support, which is great of course and necessary!).

Is your role to welcome expats and their partners/family?

You have an important role to play, a role that will mean a lot to them.

It starts, and it is not a paradox, by speaking about their return before the expatriation.

Put the expat and expat partner at the same level when considering the needs and wants, when designing your expatriation policy.

The better integrated the spouse will be, the happier the whole family will be, the more successful the expat himself will be.

For the expatriate himself, knowing his/her partner is fulfilled will allow him to focus on his own challenges and delivering the value he was chosen for.

One less issue to deal with for everyone!

Supporting expat partners provides you, as an organisation, financial gains: you save time and have a fully engaged employee.

Along with it, it provides a positive and innovative image of your organisation and your team.

You will contribute to the loyalty of your talents who will reward your support to their spouse.

One gratifying note: no expatriation project is the same and not expat partner will want to do the same: learning a language, writing a book, volunteering, training, working, starting a business are all different projects.

Planning ahead of departing is ensuring success on the return to the home country.


First step?

Reach out to them before they arrive in their new country; encourage them to think about it.


New steps?

Meet them, have a coffee with them to discuss their projects.

Show them appreciation and attention, they will feel valued and you will meet extraordinary human being, you will love it!

I’ll share with you one final secret : why not recruiting them?



Article writting by Armelle Perben

Absolutely French’s CEO

Armelle is defending the dual career in expatriation : for the expat, and the expat partner,

because expat spouses (please don’t use « trailing spouses ») are also wonderful talents.

Now you understand why expat partners are lost talents!

Read other articles :

10 key points to learn French

Elean Manjon – Be careful : talent!

Expat Partners : The talents of tomorrow!