The iconic Canary Wharf tower in London's Docklands stands as an icon for Thatcherite Britain in the 1990s when the good times, prosperity and economic upturns seemed unshakeable. The UK is trying to return to that sort of confidence amid ongoing economic instability and immigration pressures. (Photo by In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images)


‘Post-Brexit migration works’ as figures show surge in foreign job-seekers


Foreign interest in UK jobs has soared in a ringing endorsement of the post-Brexit immigration strategy launched in 2021, according to research from jobs website Indeed.

The share of searches for UK employment conducted by foreign workers has rocketed by 146 per cent since the implementation of the points-based immigration approach following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

In the country, the share of job searches conducted by people outside the UK rose from a COVID-pandemic low of 2.2 per in April 2021, to 5.5 per cent in June 2023. Foreign searches remain above the 2017-2019 average of 3.5 per cent.

Searches from within the EU experienced a smaller increase, from 1.5 per cent in April 2021 to 2.8 per cent in June 2023.

Pawel Adrjan, director of EMEA research at Indeed, told Brussels Signal that the findings show Britain’s post-Brexit immigration policy “is working as intended”.

“Where we can most clearly see the impact of the new immigration system is in the composition of searches from overseas,” he said.

“Before Brexit, searches from EU and non-EU countries for UK jobs trended similarly. After Brexit, searches from EU countries stayed at around 1.3 per cent of all searches on Indeed in the UK, down from their 2017-19 average of 1.6 per cent, while searches from non-EU countries began to rise, hitting 4.1 per cent in June 2023.”

Adrjan said these trends were “fully consistent with the aims of the post-Brexit immigration system”, which relaxed visa rules for non-EU nationals.

“These higher flows from non-EU countries have also begun to show up in the migration estimates,” he said.

Personal care and home health was the largest sector of interest for non-EU nationals looking at jobs in the UK, attracting 9.3 per cent of foreign clicks in the first half of this year, particularly among Nigerians, Indians and South Africans.

In further good news for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Adrjan said the strong interest was likely to continue.

“I think it likely that high interest from global jobseekers in UK jobs will be sustained, for two reasons,” he said.

“First, the UK has a fluid labour market with a persistently high job-vacancy rate and therefore a lot of job opportunities for newcomers.

“Second, more generally, we see that English-speaking countries are benefiting from a surge in interest from global jobseekers as long as their immigration policy remains accommodative.”

He said that alongside the UK, countries such as Australia, Canada and Ireland were also proving popular to foreign job-hunters.

Adrjan added: “Language and cultural links matter for job search and migration, and the UK can benefit from a large global pool of English-speaking candidates.”

That situation is making life difficult for EU officials looking to improve the bloc’s attractiveness to non-EU jobseekers, he said.

“It’s important for EU policymakers to think about how to overcome language barriers when trying to attract skilled workers from overseas, as English-speaking countries have an inherent advantage in this area.”

The UK Government introduced its new points-based immigration system in January 2021 where people are scored on certain criteria such as speaking English, having a job offer, having a PhD, earning a high salary or taking a job in a sector with a shortage of workers.

People who reach a score of 70 points then qualify for a visa under the system.