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Work in the UK

Country flag: UK

The broad and eclectic range of industries in the UK makes it one of the best choices for work in Europe, with many cities transforming into international business hubs

Job market in the UK

The UK is highly globalised and boasts the third-largest economy in Europe meaning the job market is competitive. International students with good English language skills can go far, as speaking more than one language is becoming a desirable skill to possess in the world of business.

Industries that are currently seeing a drive in recruitment are education, engineering and law. The hospitality and retail industries have a high turnover of staff and so often recruit all year round. The creative arts and design sector, although highly competitive, is often recruiting in London, while marketing and PR is thriving in cities such as Birmingham and Manchester.   

Get tips on how best to approach the job market and find a job.

If you are coming from outside the UK and you have a different mother tongue than English, you may be able to find teaching work as a modern foreign language (MFL) teacher. The main languages taught in schools in the UK are French, Spanish and German.

There is a shortage of professionals in these subjects and a demand for talented individuals. If you have a university degree or English equivalent, and a good grasp of English language, you may be entitled to bursary support in order to complete the required postgraduate study to become a teacher of modern foreign languages. 

For more information on teaching languages in the UK, available bursaries and training options, go to Teach Modern Foreign Languages .

Graduate schemes are available at many of the UK’s large and multinational companies in sectors such as:

  • banking;
  • technology;
  • engineering;
  • retail.

A list of companies offering schemes can be found in the job sectors and graduate job search.

For small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), you will have to apply directly. Research individual companies to find out what graduate positions and work experience is available at SMEs.

Job vacancies

For jobs in the UK, see:

Work experience and internships in the UK

To get a foot in the door of an organisation, many students in the UK look for work experience. Work experience opportunities will vary in length, depending on the organisation. In some cases a placement will be as short-term as one day; others may last for several months and lead to a permanent position.

It’s important to remember that all work experience is valuable and many students are successful in securing a place for several months.

Your university’s international office can help you find and apply for work experience and internships

Volunteering in the UK

There are lots of voluntary roles in the UK that can help you to develop your English skills and allow you to give something back to a charitable organisation. If you can afford to work unpaid in order to gain experience, taking on a voluntary placement will be worthwhile and can help boost your CV.

  • Community Service Volunteers (CSV)  works in partnership with UK organisations to deliver programmes that enable people of all ages and backgrounds to put something back into the community.
  • Vinspired  has a range of opportunities for 14-25 year-olds. Search by category, project and organisation to find a suitable project.

You can find further volunteering projects that are happening locally in your community by checking local newspapers and notice boards. Make sure you thoroughly research all volunteering opportunities and always check the terms and conditions before committing yourself to a scheme.

Language requirements

If you are looking for work in the UK, you will need to speak a certain level of English. GOV.UK has details on language requirements and other specifications for people wishing to settle in the UK at GOV.UK - Settle in the UK .

UK visas and immigration

Immigration categories are dependent on a points-based system and non-European migrants will have to research their category requirements before applying for visas at GOV.UK - Work Visas .    

According to the European Commission, European Union (EU) citizens have the right to: 

  • move to another EU country to work without a work permit;
  • enjoy equal treatment with nationals in access to employment, working conditions and all other social and tax advantages;
  • stay in the country even after employment has finished.

For more information and to check what conditions and restrictions apply, see:

As an EU national, you will adhere to the same rights and regulations as UK nationals. 

Depending on your occupation, your qualifications may be recognised in some countries. To find out more, visit Europa - Qualifications for Employment .


Further information

Written by Editor, Graduate Prospects
July 2014

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