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United Kingdom (UK) - Finding Employment

The job market in the UK is improving. Details suggest that unemployment numbers are falling throughout the country. The latest reports state that 2.47 million people were looking for work between September and November 2013. The overall rate has fallen to 7.6%. This percentage includes any person who is out of work and actively seeking employment. Compared to the rate of unemployment in 2008, the number has increased significantly; at that point, it was slightly over 5%. Statistics show that the highest rate of unemployment was in 2011, when 2.7 million people were looking for work in the UK.

Unemployment in England

In England the employment rate is highest in the South East. The lowest employment rates are in the North East, while the lowest unemployment rates are in the South West. The rate of unemployment in the North East has reached 10.1%; in the South East it is significantly lower at 6.2%.

Unemployment in Wales

The latest figures from Wales show an unemployment rate of 7.8%; however, this has dropped in recent months. Over the past few months, 4,000 job seekers have been employed, meaning that the total number of unemployed people in Wales currently stands at 117,000.

Unemployment in Scotland

The UK unemployment percentage may be down, but in Scotland the number of people without jobs has increased by 10,000, according to September 2013 statistics.

Unemployment in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is reporting better numbers in recent times, with a nine-month consecutive drop in unemployment.

Application for Employment

Expats looking to enter the UK for work must already have a job. Once in the UK on a work permit, an expat can start a job search. Applying for a job can be done online, through a recruitment agency, or in person. Typically, unless the place of employment has announced a job in a media source, it is not considered appropriate to send out a CV. Companies may hire in-house without first publishing a job advert, so unless an expat has heard about an available job it is better not to apply. Unsolicited job applications may be thrown out, particularly if one is an expat, since the company might assume a work visa would only be temporary. There are multinational corporations that will employ English-speaking expats; however, these companies are usually looking for multilingual staff.

It is difficult for expats who do not speak English to find a job, however certain skilled positions may call for someone who speaks a little English and is fluent in another language, particularly due to multinational business needs. There are certain resident requirements for expats to become citizens, including the requirement to speak English. If an expat is not looking to become a full citizen of the UK and remain in the country on a work visa, then there is a possibility of finding a job with less than fluent English, although wages are usually considerably lower.

Temporary Work for Expats

For a full listing of temporary work available to expats, see the UK Border Agency list under Tier 5. Tier 5 outlines most of the jobs available for expats. Two of the main industries include creative work and sports, in which short-term contracts of up to 12 months are available. Additional industries include charity work, religious work, and government-authorised exchanges.

Penalties for Illegal Working

Companies can be fined up to £10,000 for employing illegal workers, and their licence to employ migrants can be taken away. For expats working without a permit or citizenship there is potential jail time, certain deportation, and potential denial of re-entry into the UK for work or any other reason.

Clear and concise information pertaining to the level of salaries to be expected in the UK can be found in the Salary section.

Recruitment Agencies

Manpower UK

As long as a person has a work permit, visa, or citizenship they can use this agency.

Government Employment Service

This website provides a listing of job search sites and services.

Useful Contact Details

British Chamber of Commerce

+44(0) 207 654 5800

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