The UK is no longer the top European destination for foreign workers - results from the Decoding Global Talent 2018 report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and The Network have shown. Germany has replaced it as the European country most job seekers would consider moving to and Germany is now the second most popular work destination worldwide, behind the US.
The report is based on a survey of 366,000 workers, in 197 countries, on job preferences and mobility. The report shows that in 2014 the UK was the second most attractive country for a global workforce (ranked by the percentage of respondents willing to move to each country for work). Since then there has been a decline and the 2018 survey shows that the UK has dropped to 5th place behind the US, Germany, Canada and Australia. Spain, France, Switzerland, Italy and Japan are in 6th to 10th place respectively.
Nonetheless on the tech front, there is some good news for technical recruiters and companies looking to fill roles in areas such as artificial intelligence, software engineering, web development, or machine learning: digital experts are considerably more willing to relocate to another country for work. 67% of digital experts, who responded to the survey, would be willing to take a job abroad - 10% higher than the overall average. When the data is broken down by demographics, the UK remains in the same position as overall for digital experts (an expert in at least one digital skill), but moves up to fourth place for highly educated workers (those with a master’s degree, a doctorate/equiv).
It is interesting but perhaps unsurprising, when the BCG results are analysed by city that London remains the most popular city in the world to move to for work. 22% of people who responded to the survey said they would be willing to move to London for work compared to 16% to New York, 15% for Berlin, 15% for Barcelona and 14% for Amsterdam. European and US cities dominated the results but other cities, most notably Dubai and Tokyo joining the top 10, have risen up the rankings since 2014.
Within tech too, research by Stack Overflow, shows that London is home to more software developers than any other European city, with over 250,000 workers across the capital. Based on fresh analysis of Stack Overflow’s 50 million monthly users, London is the top European hub for professional developers, followed by Paris, Madrid and Berlin.
However the overall picture vis-à-vis the shifting preferences of the global tech community post-Brexit isn’t only affecting those targeting immediate employment in the tech sector - it seems Brexit could also cause a loss of students from the EU who wish to study STEM at UK universities. An investigation by the Administrative Data Research Network (ADRN) found that of the 500,000 foreign students studying in the UK, roughly 125,000 are EU nationals; and approximately two-thirds of postgraduate students from the EU are likely to be studying STEM subjects. However, Brexit could reduce the number of these students coming into the country, the ADRN said, attributable in part to the process for EU citizens coming to study here becoming tougher, together with a change in the perceived desirability of the UK as a place to study and work and reduced funding for research leading to fewer paid post-graduate places. This, the researchers said, shows that universities and businesses could lose some of "the most highly skilled graduates, presenting a serious blow to the UK economy and workforce".
Further, around the world tech companies are ready and increasingly well positioned to capitalise on such forces, not least as several countries enact stricter immigration laws. For example, of 100 high-growth Toronto-region tech firms polled, 53 per cent saw a sizeable increase in international job applicants between 2016 and 2017. Follow-on effects are also becoming evident with recent news that Collision, one of North America’s fastest-growing start-up conferences, has decided to relocate to Toronto from New Orleans. In Toronto’s case, now also aided by government led initiatives such as the Start-up Visa program, and recently the Global Skills Hub launched to ease the process of recruiting of non-North American job seekers to the country.
RWA works with world class tech startups in London to recruit global talent. We are accustomed to working with tech companies located across different countries and time zones - companies looking to recruit developers that could be based anywhere.