Top 5 overseas contracting hotspots of 2015

Due to weaker economic global activity, 2014 proved to be a difficult year for some countries and contracting opportunities may have not registered the expected demand, writes Helene Truffa of Capital Consulting, an international tax and employment advisory.

In the Eurozone there have been some former ‘crisis’ countries such as Spain and Ireland that had a better year than expected; countries like France and Italy had a much harder time.  

And despite some strong expectations for Poland, we actually witnessed a lower number of contracting roles. Recent changes in the country to regulations around temporary work are to blame, as these have slowed the demand of fixed term assignments.

But another location we tipped as being ‘hot’ in the first quarter of 2014, Latin America, has proven to remain strong. Indeed throughout last year, contracting opportunities in Brazil have consolidated the need for it to have a highly skilled workforce, which has attracted a large number of expatriates into the country.

Meanwhile, despite the disputed vote against mass immigration, Switzerland has continued attracting a large number of skilled candidates for long term projects, remaining an interesting country to work due to the relative high pay rates and quality of life. Even the recent decision of the Swiss National Bank to remove the minimum exchange rate against the Euro does not deter us from predicting that Switzerland will continue attracting the UK’s contractors throughout 2015. Thanks to Switzerland’s small size and healthy economy, there is a constant need for highly skilled personnel, particularly in the pharmaceutical, banking and IT industries.

Until last year, The Netherlands faced a couple of years of economic contraction. This year a strong expansion is expected, which will doubtless offer great contracting opportunities across several industries. Despite rather high tax levels in The Netherlands, roles proposing higher rates offer a good retention rate to expatriate contractors, partly owing to the well-publicised 30% tax allowance.

Similarly, growth prospects for Mexico are currently fairly positive, but downside risks to the 2015 outlook persist, due to both a weak peso and historically low oil prices. The mining industry remains strong though, and the prospects for contracting opportunities are interesting.

Also known to pique contractors’ interest is South Africa -- the second largest economy in Africa, with strong opportunities in the mining and the mineral-processing industries. As a contractor, working in South Africa can be a highly rewarding experience; it’s an opportunity to experience living in the world's second biggest continent (and youngest in age of population terms), with an extremely rich culture and history to boot. And on top of all that, you can secure both a high standard of living and high rates.

Lastly but certainly not least because of its strong economy is Germany. It's currently leading the Eurozone and continues to attract a highly skilled workforce, notably in the IT, oil and gas sectors -- what with the offshore platforms, and of course in the engineering field. Tax though can prove quite high, particularly for high earners. It is however possible to reduce the tax liability by offsetting personal expenses or registering in country as a Freiberufler (registered freelancer), as no social charges are applicable in the latter set up.

Generally, and for the rest of this year, we expect the overseas contracting market to continue growing and offering interesting opportunities for UK contract professionals. But abroad – like at home – tax can be taxing, so we recommend that you only proceed once you are ‘in-the-know’ about your personal tax and social security status, as advice on these can prove invaluable.

Editor’s Note: Additional information and guidance on compliance when contracting overseas is available from Capital Consulting on +41 32 732 97 00.

Wednesday 15th April 2015