UK Work Visas Up 300%
UK visas which enable Aussies and Kiwis to work in the UK increased by 300% in Q1 2022 from the same quarter last year.
While that may be a headline-grabbing change, it comes off a record low of 700 visas issued in Q1 2021. The latest quarterly immigration statistics published by the Home Office represent little more than a return to pre-covid levels with only a slight increase of 8% from the same quarter in 2020.
The latest quarterly figure of 2,844 UK work visas issued to Aussies and Kiwis is a long way from the peak of 11,150 work visas issued in Q1 2005. That was a while ago now, and a lot has changed since.
Overall, the number of Aussies and Kiwis going to work in the United Kingdom halved from the peak of 33,515 in 2005 to 16,955 in 2019.
If the impact of the global financial crisis and Brexit is anything to go by, it could take some time to return to pre-covid levels, if at all.
After numbers declined 30% by the time the global financial crisis hit in 2008, it took 5 years before there was an increase in the annual flow of Aussies and Kiwis to the UK from 2013 to 2015.
Brexit Appears To Have Brought an Abrupt End to That Recovery.
The number of Aussie and Kiwis heading to the UK once again went into decline from 2016 to 2019, coinciding with lingering uncertainty about what shape Brexit might take and what impact it would have on the UK economy.
This recent pattern of decline coinciding with major economic and political events makes me question what shape a post-covid recovery might take. Uncertainty would appear to be a significant factor for Aussies and Kiwis considering a move to the UK.
That’s a long way from the longstanding perception that Aussies and Kiwis pack their bags for London with a care-free attitude to experience life overseas and travel as part of the traditional Big OE. lt suggests that heading to the UK is more than just an opportunity to travel and experience life overseas for most Aussies and Kiwis. It’s also a career move.
It took 5 years for a recovery in the flow of Aussies and Kiwis to the UK after the global financial crisis. It took 3 years for the decline to abate after the Brexit referendum.
For this reason, I think it is unlikely that the number of Aussies and Kiwis heading to London will immediately recover to pre-covid levels, which were half what they were at the peak in 2005.
In times of uncertainty, people tend to stay put. Better the devil you know. Australia and New Zealand, like the United Kingdom are experiencing serious skills shortages. It’s a good time to be a job seeker. Faced with difficulty in finding staff, employers in Australia and New Zealand understand the need to offer greater flexibility to employees. It’s easier to negotiate extended leave.
Post-covid, the world has hardly had time to draw a breath before being confronted with rampant inflation, rising interest rates, war in Europe, and the prospects of a global recession increasing daily.
These dark clouds will undoubtedly discourage some Aussies and Kiwis from going to London. The pent-up demand to travel after a couple of years of being locked down will be driving others.
Rather than head to London, does this mean Aussies and Kiwis should sit tight, stay put and perhaps just ask their employers for an extended break to travel?
Writing from a hotel in Noto, Sicily after spending a week speaking with recruiters in London, I would encourage Aussies and Kiwis to consider otherwise.
Benefit from the legacy of those that have gone before and built such a strong reputation for Aussies and Kiwis in London. Regardless of what is happing in the world, it’s a good time to be a young Aussie or Kiwi in London. Demand remains strong. Supply is not.
And, it’s great to be travelling again.
Bernie, 26 June 2022