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UK Graduates Migrating to Foreign Fields


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Though the UK economy is yet to return to pre-crash strength, it is undoubtedly looking healthier as unemployment falls and the job market for graduates begins to expand once more.

According to the Association of Graduate Recruiters, employers are expected to recruit more graduates this year than they have done since before 2007. Last year graduate job vacancies rose by 10.2% and are expected to rise by over 10% this year. Though an increase in public sector jobs is predicted, the majority of these vacancies are to be found in industries such as IT, telecommunications, energy and banking.

President of the National Union of Students Toni Pearce cautioned against premature celebration saying that despite these positive figures there is still an ‘endemic problem of youth unemployment’ in the UK. ‘Graduates will always survive better than non-graduates, who are in fact twice as likely to be unemployed, according to NUS research,’ she added.

University Minister David Willets said the rise in graduate job vacancies shows confidence in the British economy and what British graduates have to offer, saying: ‘A degree is still one of the best routes to a good job and a rewarding career.’

Across the Channel

Despite the job market revival, seeking work abroad remains popular after having hit unprecedented heights in the darkest years of the recession. Even if the opportunity for graduate-level jobs isn’t significantly higher for British graduates abroad than in the UK, the prospect of waiting tables or working on construction sites in a foreign country offers experience and adventure that isn’t to be found at home.

With freedom of movement across the EU, many British graduates have joined the throngs travelling up from southern Europe to Germany, acclaimed powerhouse of the continent and relatively un-buffeted by the economic storm.

The American Dream

More however have ventured to the English speaking countries of the New World in North America and Australasia. Despite being the self-proclaimed land of opportunity, the United States is one of the hardest places for British citizens (graduates or otherwise) to find employment. Not only is a life in the States highly sought after across the globe, the US doesn’t offer British citizens the working holiday visas that are easy to come by for most of the Commonwealth countries.

For a working visa in the States graduates require a job already secured, most commonly in the science, engineering or manufacturing industries. Those of a more artistic bent may opt for au pair work, usually on a year-long visa which the possibility of it being extended. For further information regarding visas into the US have a look at this site here.

Traditionally popular with those on gap years, working in countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand – relatively unscathed by the financial crisis – has now become a viable and bona fide career choice for many young British graduates.

Those on working holidays in Australia and New Zealand are usually granted a yearlong visa, with the stipulation of not working for the same employee for over six months.

Though the number of those coming from the UK each year is capped, Canada is commonly more generous, issuing visas for up to two years. More information regarding Canadian visa regulations and opportunities can be found here.

On top of these options, the last few years has seen a rise in British graduates taking the Tefl qualification and leaving the UK to teach English abroad. Destinations such as Spain and Italy remain consistently popular, but the last decade has also seen a rise in those venturing to China and Japan.

Thoughts of England

As the job market in the UK slowly begins to expand once more, those in the higher echelons of government and business are most likely hoping that the departed migrants will return to these shores with experience and qualifications under their belt and not, bored of Britain and having liked what they have seen abroad, opt for an expatriate life.

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