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Foreign interest in UK jobs more than doubles following government’s new immigration policy

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Foreign interest in UK jobs more than doubled after the government launched its post-Brexit immigration system in January 2021, according to new research from global matching and hiring platform Indeed. 

In the UK, the share of job searches conducted by foreigners rose by 146% from a pandemic low point of 2.2% in April 2021, to 5.5% in June 2023. Foreign searches also remain well above the 2017-2019 average of 3.5%. 

Meanwhile, the EU is lagging behind. In April 2021, just 1.5% of all clicks on EU jobs came from searchers outside the EU. That share has almost doubled since, rising to 2.8% as of June – an 82% jump that nevertheless pales in comparison to recent gains in non-EU nations including the UK, United States, Canada and Australia. Almost a year after the launch of the EU Talent Pool initiative meant to attract skilled workers to the EU, Europe is struggling to establish itself as a top destination for jobseekers looking at opportunities abroad. 

The UK also appears to be more of a longer-term magnet for foreign job seekers compared to the EU, with the proportion of searches from abroad consistently higher since at least 2017. 

However, larger, English-speaking countries such as the UK are not the global leaders when it comes to attracting foreign workers. Among the countries analysed by Indeed, it was smaller nations that tended to attract the highest portion of foreign jobseekers, including Luxembourg, Oman and Switzerland (all with foreign search shares between 40% and 75% as of June).

UK personal care & home health and software development roles most in demand

Personal care and home health was the largest sector of interest for foreign job seekers looking at jobs in the UK, attracting 9.3% of foreign clicks in the first half of this year, up by 7.3 percentage points from 2019. Nigerians, Indians and South Africans are the most frequent foreign clickers on these positions. 

Globally, where workers have sought foreign opportunities appears to be heavily influenced by existing historic or cultural relationships between given nations. This stands true for the UK, with the Commonwealth countries of India, Pakistan and Nigeria making up a significant proportion of total foreign clicks on jobs.

Pawel Adrjan, Director of EMEA research at Indeed, said: 

“Immigration to developed countries has rebounded significantly in recent years, fueled in large part by tight labour markets and long-term demographic trends including ageing populations and shrinking local workforces. In fact, ONS data shows that net migration to the UK was 606,000 in 2022, the highest number on record. In contrast, Indeed’s data shows that the EU is struggling to establish itself as a top destination for foreign job seekers, despite the rebound from pandemic lows.”

“The research also underscores that the UK government’s new immigration policy is operating as intended, with requirements for non-EU workers generally easing after Brexit. There is a shift towards non-European interest in higher-skilled jobs such as software development in the UK and away from lower-skilled roles European workers had previously taken. We’ve also seen a sharp and unabated rise in foreign interest in care jobs since 2021, following the addition of these roles to the shortage occupation list in 2022.”

Ukrainian jobseekers favour English-speaking countries, including the UK 

Following the Russian invasion in February 2022, UK jobs received the third highest number of clicks by Ukrainians (15%), behind the United States (34%) and Canada (25%). In fact, almost three-quarters of jobseekers in Ukraine looking for opportunities abroad clicked on roles outside the European Union, a sign of the relative unattractiveness of EU job markets to these jobseekers. 

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