UK Jobs Spike

Demand among overseas workers at highest level in 18 months

The number of overseas workers seeking jobs in Britain surged in August, hitting its highest level since December 20181, according to new data released by the world’s largest job site, Indeed.

Indeed’s analysis of searches for UK roles made by international jobseekers showed interest in August was 140% higher than its lowest level of the year, which came on 24th March, the day after lockdown was imposed. In August alone, the share of searches coming from overseas workers rose by 86.2%.

In previous years, December and January have typically seen the biggest spikes in international searches, as workers often use the beginning of the year to explore a fresh start abroad.

However foreign interest in UK jobs in January 2020 – the month Brexit happened – was 16% lower than the same month in 2019, and 12% down on January 2018.

Official data suggests Brexit and Covid have combined to drive down the number of foreign workers actually moving to the UK. In the 12 months to the end of June, the Home Office granted 22% fewer work-related visas to foreigners than it did the previous year2, making the August spike revealed by Indeed’s data all the more striking.

With UK and EU negotiators now into their eighth round of Brexit trade talks, Indeed found the greatest overseas interest in UK jobs came from non-EU countries. India, which at 11.8% accounted for the biggest share of international searches, was followed by the United States with 7.4% and the Republic of Ireland with 5.4%.

As inbound searches have risen, outbound searches by UK workers looking for roles overseas have collapsed to their lowest level since August 2017. Outbound searches now equate to just a third of the level of inbound searches3.

Outbound searches in August 2020 were a third (34.3%) down on their August 2019 level, and they have declined by half (51%) since the same month in 2018.

The United States is by far the most popular destination for Brits looking for jobs abroad, making up 32.7% of outbound job searches. The Republic of Ireland, with 8.9% of searches, and Canada (8.2%) make up the top three.

The most popular job, both among Brits looking abroad and overseas workers considering a move to the UK, is customer services representative. The other top roles UK candidates are searching for overseas include software engineer, administrative assistant, and project manager.

Overseas workers are most commonly searching for retail sales, cleaning and delivery driver jobs in the UK.

Jack Kennedy, UK Economist at global job site Indeed, comments: “Despite the recession and tens of thousands of job losses, the UK’s jobs market clearly still holds a strong appeal for many overseas jobseekers.

“Lockdown initially plunged inbound job searches into the deep freeze, but they have since picked up steam as overseas interest in British jobs has surged. However traffic going the other way is falling, as UK-based workers have become less interested in looking for work abroad.

“The number of vacancies in the UK has steadily improved from the lows seen during lockdown, which may go some way towards explaining the interest in UK jobs among jobseekers overseas. As global labour markets continue to reel from the impacts of the pandemic, international jobseekers may have been buoyed by the reopening of the UK economy.

“With most British jobseekers opting to search close to home for their next job, the uptick in people searching from abroad may offer them some extra competition in coming months.”

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