United Kingdom

The broad range of industries in the UK makes it one of the best choices for work in Europe, with many cities transforming into international business hubs

The UK economy took a hit during the global recession but more recently signs of recovery have been positive. The country boasts the third largest economy in Europe (behind Germany and France) and a workforce of over 30million people.

The unemployment rate currently stands at 5.8%, a six year low and according to a recent study by High Fliers, graduate employment is at a ten-year high with more graduate jobs on offer now than in previous years, however, competition for these roles remains fierce.

Language skills are becoming increasingly important making many foreign nationals desirable candidates in the world of business.

With the country’s diverse work sectors, good working conditions and numerous employment opportunities it’s no surprise that the UK is a popular destination for international graduates wanting to kick start their careers.

Job market in the UK

The UK is highly globalised meaning the job market is competitive. Major industries in the UK include:

  • agriculture;
  • production;
  • services.

The services sector dominates the UK economy with banking, insurance and business services all key drivers of the country’s growth. Industries in decline include manufacturing, although it’s important to note that this sector still employs large numbers of workers and makes up a significant part of the UK’s output.

Growing industries include:

  • construction;
  • creative;
  • engineering;
  • financial services;
  • hospitality;
  • IT;
  • law;
  • leisure;
  • marketing and sales.

The hospitality and retail industries often recruit all year round due to a high turnover of staff. The creative arts and design sector, although highly competitive, is often recruiting in London, while marketing and PR is thriving in cities such as Birmingham and Manchester.

In demand occupations exist in sectors such as:

  • arts and entertainment;
  • engineering;
  • healthcare;
  • IT;
  • teaching.

Get tips on how best to approach the job market and find a job.

Graduate schemes are available at many of the UK’s large and multinational companies in sectors such as:

  • banking;
  • technology;
  • engineering;
  • retail.

A list of companies offering schemes can be found in the job sectors and graduate job search.

For small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), you will have to apply directly. Research individual companies to find out what graduate positions and work experience is available at SMEs.

Job vacancies

For job listings in the UK, see:

  • graduate job search – for the latest graduate schemes, placements and jobs;
  • Guardian Jobs – national news site advertising UK and international jobs;
  • Indeed – job site listing vacancies throughout the UK.

Teaching in the UK

The main languages taught in schools in the UK are French, Spanish and German. If you are coming from outside the UK and possess skills in one of these languages, you may be able to find teaching work as a modern foreign language (MFL) teacher.

Due to a shortage of professionals in these subjects there is a high demand for talented individuals. If you have a university degree or English equivalent, and a good grasp of the English language, you may be entitled to bursary support in order to complete the required postgraduate study.

For more information on teaching languages in the UK, available bursaries and training options, go to Teach Modern Foreign Languages.

Work experience and internships in the UK

To get a foot in the door of an organisation, many students in the UK look for work experience. Work experience opportunities will vary in length, depending on the organisation. In some cases a placement will be as short-term as one day; others may last for several months and lead to a permanent position.

It’s important to remember that all work experience is valuable and many students are successful in securing a place for several months.

Your university’s international office can help you find and apply for work experience and internships.

Volunteering in the UK

There are lots of voluntary roles in the UK that can help you to develop your English skills and allow you to give something back to a charitable organisation.

If you can afford to work unpaid in order to gain experience, taking on a voluntary placement will be worthwhile and can help boost your CV.

  • Do-it is the UKs national volunteering database, listing opportunities from thousands of charities and social groups.
  • Vinspired has a range of opportunities for 14-25 year-olds. Search by category, project and organisation to find a suitable project.
  • Volunteering England part of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).
  • Volunteering Matters works in partnership with UK organisations to deliver programmes that enable people of all ages and backgrounds to put something back into the community.

You can find further volunteering projects that are happening locally in your community by checking local newspapers and notice boards. Make sure you thoroughly research all volunteering opportunities and always check the terms and conditions before committing yourself to a scheme.

Language requirements

If you are looking for work in the UK, you will need to speak a certain level of English. WWW.GOV.UK  has details on language requirements and other specifications for people wishing to settle in the UK at GOV.UK – Settle in the UK.

UK visas and immigration

Immigration categories are dependent on a points-based system and non-European migrants will have to research their category requirements before applying for visas at GOV.UK – Work Visas.

According to the European Commission, European Union (EU) citizens have the right to:

  • move to another EU country to work without a work permit;
  • enjoy equal treatment with nationals in access to employment, working conditions and all other social and tax advantages;
  • stay in the country even after employment has finished.

For more information and to check what conditions and restrictions apply, see:

As an EU national, you will adhere to the same rights and regulations as UK nationals.

Depending on your occupation, your qualifications may be recognised in some countries. To find out more, visit Europa – Qualifications for Employment.

Working conditions

In the UK the average working week is Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. Working hours should be set out in your contract of employment and unless you choose to, you shouldn’t have to work more than 48 hours a week.

Part-time and flexible work are also possible.

Adult workers are entitled to at least one day off a week, four weeks paid annual leave, sick pay, maternity and paternity leave. Employers are not required by law to allow days off on bank or public holidays, although many honour these dates.

In England and Wales there are eight bank/public holidays a year, in Scotland there are nine and in Northern Ireland there are ten.

In the UK if you are aged 16 or above you are entitled to receive the National Minimum Wage (NMW). For workers aged 21 or over the current hourly rate of NMW is £6.50. For those aged 18 to 20 it’s slightly less at £5.13.

Income Tax is the tax you pay once you start earning a wage. Taxable income includes the money you earn from employment and any profits you make if you’re self employed. Most people get a personal allowance of tax-free income, which is usually around £10,000. The basic rate of Income Tax currently stands at 20%.