While the UK boasts the fifth largest economy and is home to a number of key business hubs, it still suffers from a shortage of skilled workers - discover the sectors taking on graduates and find out how to apply for role
The country's unemployment rate stands at a relatively low 3.7% (September 2022), and the graduate labour market remains robust and is as strong as it has been for some time. Competition for graduate jobs is fierce but candidates with the right qualifications, skills and experience stand a good chance of securing employment.
Language skills are increasingly important, making many foreign nationals desirable candidates. The UK has many international communities, so as a foreign worker you'll be in good company.
With the UK's diverse job sectors, good working conditions and numerous employment opportunities, it's no surprise that it's a popular destination for international graduates wanting to kick start their careers.
Jobs in the UK
Major industries in the UK include:
- accounting, banking and finance
The services sector dominates the UK economy with banking, insurance and business all key drivers of the country's growth. Other important industries include metals, chemicals, aerospace, shipbuilding, motor vehicles, food processing, textiles and clothing, design, the arts and electronic and communications equipment.
In recent years there has been a decline in the manufacturing industry, although it's important to note that this sector still employs a large number of workers.
Popular graduate jobs
- Business analyst
- Data scientist
- Finance analyst/adviser
- HR manager
- Marketing and sales professionals
- Project manager
- Software developer
- Welfare/housing associates.
Graduate schemes are available at many of the UK's large and multinational companies, in sectors such as:
To find out more, see graduate schemes.
According to The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers 2022, the most popular graduate employers include the Civil Service, National Health Service (NHS), PwC, Deloitte and Google.
More information on particular industries can be found in ourjob sectors.
Look for job vacancies at:
- Prospects job search - for the latest graduate schemes, placements and jobs
- The Guardian Jobs- national news site advertising UK and international jobs
- Indeed- job site listing vacancies throughout the UK
- Reed- lists vacancies in a range of sectors throughout the UK.
There are currently a number of shortage occupations, including:
- Accountancy, banking and finance - actuaries, economists and statisticians
- Business services - analysts, market researchers, HR officers
- Construction - surveyors, architects, planners and project managers
- Creative arts and design - artists, dancers and choreographers, musicians, graphic designers, producers and directors
- Education - primary and secondary school teachers (particularly maths teachers)
- Engineering - electrical, design and development engineers, mechanical and chemical engineers, civil engineers and, product and process engineers
- Healthcare - nurses, carers, health managers and directors
- Hospitality - baristas, chefs
- IT - cyber security analysts, SEO marketers web design, programme/software developers and systems engineers
- Science and pharmaceuticals - nuclear medical scientists, biochemists, construction scientists, laboratory technicians
- Social care - counsellors, social workers.
How to get a job in the UK
In the UK you can apply for most jobs online by sending a CV and cover letter or by filling out an application form. Where possible, CVs should be no longer than two sides of A4 and cover letters no more than a page. Learn more about writing CVs and cover letters.
Networking is important and many vacancies are filled through word of mouth. Use any pre-existing UK contacts to make enquiries about vacancies and let them know that you're actively looking for work in the country.
Speculative applications are also welcome and these can be useful when applying to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as they don't always advertise vacancies.
Apply for work as early as possible, as many companies have long recruitment processes. Complete the application in your home country and make the move once you have secured a position.
Due to a high turnover of staff, the hospitality and retail industries often recruit all year round. The creative arts and design sector often recruits in London, while marketing and PR is thriving in cities such as Birmingham and Manchester.
If you're shortlisted for a job, you may have to attend a series of interviews. These could be one-to-one interviews with your potential line manager or panel interviews with managers and HR personnel. Larger companies and graduate schemes often use a mix of psychometric testing, assessment centres and interviews to select successful candidates.
Get more advice onhow to find a job.
There are many summer, seasonal and temporary jobs on offer in the UK and the majority can be found in the tourism, hospitality and retail industries.
Summer jobs include working at summer or holiday camps, at outdoor adventure and water sport parks, on campsites and at a number of UK festivals.
Hotels, bars and restaurants require causal workers all year round - opportunities are plentiful in large cities and tourist areas. The retail sector also employs temporary staff to cover the busy Christmas period.
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 to gain experience, taking on a voluntary placement will be worthwhile and can help boost your CV.
- Do-itis the UK's national volunteering database, listing opportunities from thousands of charities and social groups.
- Volunteering Englandis part of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).
- Volunteering Mattersworks in partnership with UK organisations to deliver programmes that enable people of all ages and backgrounds to put something back into the community.
Find volunteering projects that are happening locally by checking local newspapers and notice boards. Make sure you research all volunteering opportunities and check the terms and conditions before committing to a scheme.
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 to complete the required postgraduate study.
For more information on teaching languages in the UK, available bursaries and training options, go toTeach Modern Foreign Languages.
The British Council also provides opportunities to teach foreign languages in British schools through their Modern language assistant programme. If you are a fluent speaker of French, German, Irish, Italian, Mandarin or Spanish you could spend a year teaching in the UK, gaining valuable teaching experience and transferable skills. Salaries average at about £20,000 while in London this is closer to £38,000.
To get a foot in the door of an organisation, many students in the UK look for relevant work experience. Work experience opportunities are available in almost every sector and will vary in length, depending on the organisation. In some cases a placement will be as short as one day; others may last for several months and lead to a permanent position.
Remember that all work experience is valuable and many students are successful in securing a placement lasting several months.
Your university's international office can help you find and apply for work experience and internships.
Search for work experience in the UK.
Provides paid business and hospitality internships for students and recent graduates.
A Graduate visa will allow you to stay in the UK for two years after completing your course. This will give you time to find employment and then apply for a work visa.
A Skilled-Worker visa will allow for five years of residence in the UK, after which you can apply for permanent settlement. Apply for the visa three months before you start work with proof of your job offer from an approved employer.
To meet demand within the healthcare sector you could get a Health and Care Worker visa. You need to be a qualified doctor, nurse, health professional or adult social care professional and your employer must be approved by the Home Office.
There are also Innovator and Start-up visas for those who are self-employed. They allow for two to three years' residence, as long as you can prove that your idea is viable and original.
If you are visiting for work, study or pleasure, for a small amount of time you could get a Short-term visa to allow you to stay for up to six months.
The visa you need will differ depending on the purpose of your visit. Take a look at GOV.UK - Work in the UK to see what you're eligible for.
If you are over 18 and wish to settle in the UK you may need to prove your proficiency through an English language qualification or a degree taught or researched in English.
Certain nationalities such as those from Australia, Jamaica and the USA are exempt from having to prove their proficiency - as are those with a long-term physical or mental condition. GOV.UK has details on language requirements, recognised English Language tests and other criteria for people wishing to live in the UK at GOV.UK - Settle in the UK.
How to explain your qualifications to employers
In certain countries higher education qualifications are directly comparable to those in the UK - all thanks to the Bologna Process.
If you're an EU (European Union) national who has studied a degree in your home country, it should be recognised by UK employers.
However, before applying for a job and approaching potential employers, be sure to check your current qualifications and discover whether they'll be recognised in the UK.
To learn more about the recognition of qualifications, see UK ENIC.
What it's like to work in the UK
In the UK the average working week is Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Hours of work 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.
All employees also have the legal right to request flexible and part-time working practices.
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.
There are eight bank/public holidays per year in England and Wales, nine in Scotland and ten in Northern Ireland.
In the UK, apart from a few exceptions, you are entitled to receive the National Minimum Wage (NMW) or the National Living Wage (NLW). As of April 2023, for workers aged 21-22 the hourly rate is £10.18 and £7.49 for those aged 18 to 20. If you are working and aged 23 or over and not in the first year of an apprenticeship then you are entitled to the government's NLW of at least £10.42.
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 currently £12,570. The basic rate of Income Tax currently stands at 20%.
Find out more
- Discover what it's like to study in the UK.
- Learn about living in the UK.
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While the competition for many jobs remains high, with the right experience, language skills, qualifications and professional attributes, you will find that finding a job in the UK is more than achievable.Why do you want to work in UK answer? ›
1: British Culture
Great Britain has a diverse range of cultures, largely due to immigration. By working in the UK, a person will experience a variety of philosophy, architecture, art, literature, comedy, music, cinema and sport (plus many more!).
- Nights Warehouse Operative - Andover. Ocado Group3.0. ...
- Optometrist - Exeter. new. ...
- Nursery Practitioner. new. ...
- Customer Service - Energy Specialist. Octopus Energy3.7. ...
- Mobile Data Administrator / CPI Collector. new. ...
- Early Years Deputy Manager. new. ...
- Nursery Assistant. new. ...
- Practice Nurse. Chase Medical4.9.
Additional information may include civic activities, awards and recognitions, volunteering, or cultural skills like language or travel. It may also include other interests or activities that may show leadership, character, or qualities you feel are beneficial to your career.Is it easy for Americans to work in UK? ›
US Citizens & Working in the UK
You must also meet a stringent points based assessment which takes into account your qualifications, previous earnings and age, along with a requirement to meet the English language requirements and prove that you can support yourself without access to public funds.
Most jobs in the UK require English fluency, which eliminates language barriers for many American expats. Most Americans will need to secure a job offer in the United Kingdom before applying for a work visa. The UK has work visa programs for high-demand fields like health care.Why is working in the UK better than the US? ›
The job will change to a degree, but it is important to try and be prepared for that. One way in which the UK is better off than the US is in terms of job, salary, and payscale. In the UK you have more job opportunities, higher salaries, and a wider range in earnings.What do you know about UK in short answer? ›
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Northwestern Europe, off the north-western coast of the continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.Why should we hire you answers? ›
Over the years, I have acquired relevant skills and experience, which I shall bring to your organization. I have also worked tirelessly on my communication abilities and teamwork skills, which I will put to use in my future career, which would be in your organization if I am selected for the position.What is the fastest way to get a job in UK? ›
- Find jobs that fit your qualifications. Don't rely on your existing CV. ...
- Tailor your cover letter and CV. With a tall stack of CVs to go through, hiring managers may scan yours for all of a few seconds. ...
- Ask for help from your network. ...
- Consider a temporary role.
Get a UK work visa
Work for or have a job offer from a UK employer that's been approved by the Home Office (i.e has a sponsorship licence) Have a 'certificate of sponsorship' from your employer with information about the role you've been offered in the UK. Ensure that your job is on the eligible occupations list.
Milton Keynes, Oxford, York, St Albans, and Norwich are the top five cities for job opportunities, with high average salaries, good business density, and strong employment rate growth. Oxford is the best UK city for employment rate growth, up 16.4% from 2021 to 2022.How do I write a supporting statement UK? ›
- Write in short paragraphs to avoid a wall of text. Choose a clear font such as Arial, to make sure that your statement is easy to read.
- Lay your answers out in the same order as the criteria. ...
- Remember to save your work as you go along. ...
- There is a word/character limit.
Recruiters will be looking at dozens of applications every single day so keep your supporting statement as short and succinct as possible, ideally no more than one A4 document in length.How do I write a personal statement for a job UK? ›
- Use an active voice.
- Keep sentences brief and paragraphs short.
- Make it unique to the role you're applying for.
- Ensure correct grammar and punctuation is used throughout.
Working in the UK as a foreigner can be difficult, but it has many benefits. The most important thing to do is to research what you need before coming over and make sure you have all of your documents in order. Once you're settled in, enjoy the paid time off and explore everything the United Kingdom has to offer!Is UK better than USA for jobs? ›
Working conditions in both countries can vary depending on the industry and employer. Generally, the UK offers more vacation time and a balanced work-life balance, while the US has a more competitive job market and longer working hours. Lastly, taxes differ between the two countries.Why is it so difficult to find a job UK? ›
There's more competition
If candidates don't have relevant qualifications and experience, they could find it challenging to secure a role. As increasing numbers of people go to university and go on to earn master's degrees, you may find it challenging to enter some workforces with fewer qualifications.
International graduates face an enormous challenge in securing graduate-level employment in the UK. Currently, only 7% of all international graduates succeed.