UK has fallen in attractiveness for global workers

UK drops down the rankings, according to the Global Talent Survey

The UK has fallen from 2nd to 5th most attractive country for work, according to findings from the Global Talent Survey.

Insights from 366,000 respondents across 197 countries were published in the Decoding Global Talent report on Monday 25th June 2018. This research, the most comprehensive of its kind, is compiled by totaljobs as part of The Network and its alliance of over 50 leading recruitment websites, in partnership with The Boston Consulting Group.

Here’s how the UK fares against other popular destinations:

Most attractive countries for work 2018

  1. USA
  2. Germany
  3. Canada
  4. Australia
  5. United Kingdom

The UK’s drop can be largely attributed to a decline in popularity for residents from Europe, the UAE and China. The biggest fall in popularity of the UK is found in respondents from Denmark (UK has fallen from 1st to 6th place in four years); the UEA (UK has fallen from first to fifth), and China (UK has fallen from first to fourth). For Spain, the UK now sits in 3rd; for Ireland, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Sweden, the UK has dropped to 2nd place.

The top five countries that hold the UK in high esteem are those from Commonwealth nations, including: Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Ghana and Nigeria – all placing the UK at number one overall. Our 2014 data from the Global Talent Survey showed Portugal, Israel, Barbados, Romania and Jamaica favoured the UK the most when it came to work.

Comparing the UK against its neighbours, Germany is now the most appealing destination in Europe, according to European respondents. Four years ago, in the last Global Talent Survey, the UK was the top country in the continent. Compared to many other European countries, Germany has maintained a relatively open approach to immigration since 2014. Much of the interest in Germany comes from countries who previously favoured the UK, including residents from Spain, Denmark, Poland and Romania. Similarly, China and Indonesia, who back in 2014 voted the UK above Germany in terms of where they’d like to work, now prefer Germany.

The UK’s diminished appeal is felt by both those who possess a degree, as well as individuals who have not completed Higher Education. The UK is 6th in attractiveness as a place to work for the latter group, with both Germany and Spain proving more popular.

Why has the UK’s attractiveness dropped for global workers?

One potential culprit behind the UK’s fall to fifth place, and particularly in regard to its fall in esteem for European workers, is the effect of Brexit. Uncertainty regarding the future of the UK’s relationship with the EU and how this may affect work opportunities is likely fuelling the altered perceptions of overseas workers.

Evidence of this can already be seen in UK work-related migration. According to the ONS, net migration in the UK fell in the year ending September 2017 – 6.5% fewer European citizens moved to the UK.

For some individuals who are degree-educated, the UK simply no longer ticks the boxes for career prospects. One respondent, Linus Kendall, who has dual Swedish and UK citizenship, is currently undertaking a PhD in computing from Sheffield Hallam University. He lived in the UK for three years, but is completing his doctoral research in India, where he plans to settle with his wife, who was born there.

For Linus, “It has become very clear that the UK is not a long-term option. Professionally, the fact that the UK might no longer be part of European research collaborations means that it is a less interesting choice for me as an academic. My wife runs her own business, and for her, possibilities in the UK would have been better if Brexit hadn’t happened.”

However, the UK’s attractiveness has not fallen for other global workers. For some professions, the UK continues to be more attractive for work than the global average. Within the legal field, the UK ranks as second most attractive; third for those in media and information, marketing and communications. For those within industries that are experiencing vast amounts of change including IT and technology and science and research.

What can employers do in response to the UK’s fall?

While the UK’s attractiveness to the global talent pool has fallen, employers need to focus on strengthening their offering to the talent pool available. Understanding what factors employees value the most is crucial to not just recruiting, but retaining talent in the long term.

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