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Brexit deterrent

More job applicants now coming from outside EU

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Workers from non-EU countries want to work in the UK

More overseas candidates are applying for British jobs from outside the EU for the first time in seven years, according to new data. 

Indeed’s analysis found the share of online searches for UK vacancies by candidates based outside the EU has jumped by a fifth (19.7%).

By contrast, the share of clicks from EU workers has barely changed, increasing by just 1.3% from 2019 to 2020.  

The gap in interest in UK jobs between EU workers and non-EU jobseekers has been closing since the 2016 Brexit referendum.

With the end of the Brexit transition period now just weeks away, EU citizens who come to the UK to work will face visa restrictions for the first time.


Brexit appears to be putting off Europeans more than most. Registrations to work in the UK by EU nationals were down 99% in the third quarter of 2020 versus a year ago, compared with a much smaller 65% drop in non-EU national registrations. 

A new points-based immigration scheme will come into force on 1 January2021, when free movement from the EU ends. The new visa application system, under which EU and non-EU citizens will be treated equally, has already gone live. 

High-paying jobs, with salaries mostly above the £25,600 visa threshold, in high-skilled sectors such as tech, engineering and finance have seen the biggest surge in interest from candidates outside the EU.

The average salary for a software engineer is around £42,700, mathematicians can earn £30,500, while the pay for a civil engineer can be about £35,500. 

Between April and October this year, nearly a fifth (18%) of all clicks on UK-based software development jobs came from jobseekers overseas. Interest from non-EU candidates grew rapidly, and they now account for one in eight (12.5%) of all clicks.

Jack Kennedy, UK economist at Indeed, said: “Despite the pandemic’s hammer blow to the UK economy, the UK’s jobs market is still attractive to foreign workers. But as the free movement to the UK for EU citizens ends, interest is increasingly coming from further afield. 

“The introduction of the UK’s new points-based entry system, which places both EU and non-EU workers on the same footing, may be partly behind the increased interest from jobseekers outside Europe.

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“One other factor driving the spike in interest from non-EU jobseekers was the UK’s offer of a route to citizenship to around three million Hong Kongers, who are not subject to the same visa requirements as other overseas candidates.

“The increased interest from non-EU workers is not uniform across all sectors, with higher-paid occupations the most able to tap into these global pools of talent. 

“The sectors viewed as least attractive by foreign-based workers, such as social care and construction, are of particular concern, given that several already face major recruitment challenges.” 


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