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UK advances to number two global destination for professionals to work

15 May 2013

The UK is now the second most attractive location in the world, after the United States, for high-flying professionals to relocate to, says a new report.

The research, carried out by global recruitment specialists Hydrogen, shows that the UK is rapidly establishing itself as a firm favourite among foreign workers, particularly within technology. 

The Global Professionals on the Move 2013 report, which surveyed over 2,000 people across 90 countries, has shown that despite the challenges with its economy, tightening immigration controls and notoriously unpredictable weather, the country still has an attraction that draws professionals from around the world. One of the reasons behind this attraction might be the fact that the UK is now the second most prominent global technology hub.  

Dan Fox, Managing Director of Technology practice at Hydrogen, said, “The US is still the dominant force, but the UK is definitely on the march. The States has Silicon Valley and San Francisco, the UK has Silicon Roundabout near Old Street, where you’ve got all these exciting tech firms opening.

"A lot of Europeans view the UK as a tech hub where you can work for exciting fast-paced companies. We’re seeing a lot of Europeans coming to work in the UK. It’s all about wanting to work for the up-and-coming companies.”

An example is Michal Tekel, who is originally from Slovakia and worked in Amsterdam before relocating to London to work as a development operations engineer. He says, “The UK is a very dynamic market for information technology right now, and London the best location in Europe.”

The report, which looks at the experience, attitudes and priorities of highly qualified professionals with regard to working abroad, also placed the UK second for law and life sciences. 

However, the majority of professionals have not yet caught up with shifting global economic realities. Their top preferences are still almost exclusively in the developed world and include few of the fast-growing emerging markets where they will in future be needed. Employers and recruiters will need to work hard to educate them to consider other destinations.

There is also currently a reverse brain drain emerging in Asia. Asians with international experience are relocating back to their home countries including Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, attracted there by generous incentives offered by governments and companies in the region.

In addition women are heading out earlier in their careers than men, or not at all. A third of female respondents, but only 17 percent of men, relocated between the ages of 21 and 30, whereas 17 percent of men, but only 5 percent of women, relocated aged 51-60. The result is that two thirds of those having relocated are men, which means women are losing out, and there will be insufficient women in the pipeline of female talent for more senior positions, many of which now require international experience.

Hydrogen’s Global Professionals on the Move 2013 report is conducted by ESCP Europe, the world’s oldest business school.  Other key findings of the fourth annual report, which reviews the trends year on year, were:

83 percent of respondents who had relocated said they believed it had accelerated their personal development; 
77 percent said it had benefited their career prospects; 
72 percent said it had enhanced their salaries; 
43 percent said family would be their main potential barrier to relocating; 
12 percent thought there really were no barriers to relocating at all (up from 4 percent last year). 

A full copy of the report can be found here.


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