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United Kingdom (UK) - Qualifications and Training

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills recently gathered data for a survey regarding qualifications and training. The survey asked more than 87,000 businesses to answer questions related to job posts in an effort to help anyone that might wish to choose or change careers. These same data can be used to determine what skills might be in demand for UK residents and expats. UK companies hiring expats often do so because they are struggling to fill the jobs with applicants already in the UK.

The survey indicated that 23% of employers with vacancies consider their positions to be hard to fill. These jobs include occupational trades such as plumbers, electricians, and chefs. Employers also have trouble filling positions in hotels, restaurants, manufacturing, construction, wholesale and retail. Shortages exist in accounting, law, and marketing as well.

Jobs with the highest numbers of vacancies are considered associate professional jobs in industries like IT, investment, social services, personal services, sports, leisure, and tourism. According to the survey, for every one hundred people in these jobs there are five vacancies that need to be filled.

Other industries that lack proper skilled labour are mining and quarrying. In terms of vacancies these two industries have the highest amount at over 7% when compared to workforce. Simply put, there are few people with skills in these two industries willing to work in the vacancies that are available.

Roughly 10 vacancies per 100 people exist in construction, electricity, gas, and water jobs. Education and public administration vacancies are also common due to improper skill sets.

This does not mean there is no one in the UK willing to apply for such jobs, however the skills employers are looking for are not found on CVs (resumes), causing a shortage of the above named skill sets.

Out of all the jobs mentioned, the main skill that is lacking with most UK residents that is more common in expat employees is a secondary language. Many positions benefit from an employee with a second language, including customer services, engineering and teaching. This is particularly true in international and multinational businesses that operate out of the UK, particularly in London.

Many of the jobs demanding expat skills require special certifications before a person can legally work in the UK. There are a couple of ways to obtain such certifications. The first is to have a skill set that is recognised within the UK, such as European expats that have qualified in European frameworks similar to the legislation and qualifications in the UK. The SRA, or Solicitors Regulation Authority, regulates skill sets for lawyers and determines whether an expat’s skills are transferable to the UK. The Institute of Financial Planning is another organisation that can help with the transfer of qualifications specific to financial industries.

If a UK organisation does not recognise an expat’s certificate from their home country, there are several tests that must be passed in order to work in a given industry. An expat is required to pass these tests at the same level as any UK citizen; therefore, it may be necessary to study UK textbooks to ensure one is properly prepared for the test. Retraining or further training may also be required before a person can gain the necessary qualifications for the job. There are a number of organisations that oversee training and retraining. It is important to find the correct organisation based on the necessary skill set.

Organisations for Qualifications

If there is a need to be retrained, to take a test, or to determine whether one’s skill set will match that required by the UK government, there are several organisations that may be able to help. The organisations listed tend to be popular choices for retaining, testing, and qualification checks across a variety of industries.


NARIC works with the UK government to determine which international qualifications compare favourably with UK laws and regulations.

+44(0) 871 330 7033

UK’s Credit Transfer Systems

This company assesses European Qualifications for possible transfer to the UK.


The Solicitors’ Regulation Authority is a particular organisation for solicitors and lawyers looking to transfer to the UK.

+44(0) 870 606 2555

Expat Health Insurance Partners


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.

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