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Rapid Rise in Foreign Hiring in the UK

Written by Dmytro Makarov

A steep shortage of candidates in the United Kingdom is forcing British employers to seek foreign talents to fill vacancies. These employers offer extra support to help potential recruits move to the UK with ease and have also applied for the Sponsorship Licence UK to ensure all the documentation and paperwork are in order. 

In 2021, 30.2 million passengers arrived in the UK, including returning residents. This figure is 23% less than 2020. However, there was a 36% rise in the visa grant in 2021 compared to the previous year. Out of the total 1,311,731 visas granted in 2021, 18% were work-related, 33% were study permits, 31% for visit purposes, 3% for family, and 14% for other reasons.

A total of 239,987 work and related visas were granted during 2021, including dependents, which was 25% higher than in 2019. There was a 33% rise in the skilled work visa category in 2021 compared to 2019, reaching 151,000.

What Changed in the Hiring?

In late 2020, the UK introduced new skill routes for Skilled Workers, Skilled Worker Health and Care, and intra-company transfers, accounting for 148,240 (62%) of the total work-related visas and 98% of all skilled work visa grants in the year 2021. Also, there was a sharp rise in Seasonal Workers from 7,211 in 2020 to 29,631 in 2021, which is a whopping 311% increase.

Jump to 2022, large tech, financial, and consulting firms are turning to HR consultants to find cost-effective ways for foreign employee hiring and relocations. Despite numerous job openings, employers cannot fill these positions due to labour shortages and the talent gap. According to Monster, 87% of employers in the UK are having a hard time with talent acquisition due to the talent gap.

In the effort to bounce back post-Brexit and the pandemic, the UK job market is struggling to get on its feet. With extreme labour shortages in the IT and Health Care departments, the country is trying to open more doorways for expatriate hiring.

Despite the tech industry being in its growth phase and high paying jobs and positions being available, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sports (DCMS) states a yearly shortage of 10,000 people to fill positions in data analysis and cyber security. In short, the demand outweighs the supply in terms of talent. 

This issue is pushing companies to offer attractive benefits packages, incentives, and support in luring foreign talent from across the world to the UK. 

How To Reduce the Skill Shortage?

An organisation can reduce the skill shortage by training and teaching the existing staff to increase their scope of work and skills. This might add to the current workload of employees, but you can find future skilled leaders by constantly updating your employee’s knowledge domain.

For multinational companies working in the UK, one way of tackling the labour shortage is to transfer existing employees from countries with an abundant supply of tech talent like the US or India to the UK. However, the relocation of employees is a complicated and expensive affair. It is observed that the stress of relocation and the surrounding paraphernalia cause expatriate failure, which is around 10-50% in usual cases.

There are numerous processes to be followed for a single relocation. For example, finding a home, bank account set-up, shipping luggage and belongings. To go through the entire relocation process, all communication is done through tedious methods of several emails, PDFs, printouts, phone calls, etc.

It could be a hassling and taxing experience for people to turn a house into a home in an alien environment and culture. Rigid and expensive packages cost a lot of money to companies for labour relocation. Exceptional support for migrating from one country to another in the same company is provided chiefly to senior-most people in the management sector.  

A recent trend for employers is to offer a lump sum for relocation where the employee has to search for a house, solve the transport issues, bank work, dependents and children-relocation, etc. While this is useful for employers, it leaves employees feeling abandoned and stressed, which becomes an issue for the HR department.

Another long shot is increasing awareness in schools and colleges and stressing the importance of learning skills that are in shortage in the UK. Doing this will make the next generation more employable, equip them with new skills, and decrease the labour shortage gap. A clear career path will also help students make the correct decision to fill the talent gap. 

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Dmytro Makarov

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