British tech scene attracting more overseas professionals

UK only outstripped by USA in the ‘technology magnet’ stakes for people looking to work abroad

British tech scene attracting more overseas professionals

You could say we have been waxing lyrical about the growth of the UK’s tech start-ups over the past few months. However, when a new report emerges showing how it has contributed to making us the second most desirable location in the world for high-flying professionals to relocate to, why shouldn’t we continue to champion such a burgeoning sector?

In its survey of over 2,000 people across 90 countries – conducted in partnership with business school ESCP Europe – global recruitment firm Hydrogen has revealed that the UK is now the second most prominent global technology hub, helping to place us just behind the USA, and narrowly ahead of Australia, as the most attractive country for ambitious workers who are looking to take their career to the next level, and beyond. Of the people surveyed, 13.4% identified the UK as their most favoured destination, jumping ahead of Australia  on 12.7%. Encouragingly, we also ranked second in life sciences and legal, but such is the seemingly unstoppable charge of the tech start-up, it is clear why the UK’s emergence as Europe’s technological driving-force is something to be revered. 

“The US is still the dominant force, but the UK is definitely on the march,” said Dan Fox, managing director of technology practice at Hydrogen. “A lot of Europeans view the UK as a tech hub where you can work for exciting fast-paced companies.”

For want of context, Hydrogen’s Global Professionals on the Move 2013 report was put together to assess the attitudes, experience and priorities of highly qualified and high earning professionals towards working abroad. Of the people surveyed who had relocated, 98% said they would recommend it to others, with the acceleration on personal development identified by 83% of respondents as the main benefit relocation had brought. A further 77% believed it had benefitted their careers whilst 72% said it has enhanced their salaries. Overall, when taking into account that 38% of people surveyed were already working abroad, with 54% considering a change of scenery, 92% recognised the value of international experience. 

Focusing on those who are considering relocation then, it is career opportunities that came out on top with 18% citing it as a key motivator for a big move overseas, whilst greater earning potential and the attraction of a new experience each motivated 16% of respondents. On the flip side of this, a scarcity of job opportunities was cited by 22% of professionals as the main barrier to finding overseas employment, followed by the economic climate (19%), difficulties with visas and work permits (19%) and an insufficient relocation package (16%). And whereas family was unsurprisingly identified by most (43%) as the principal roadblock to relocation, it is arguably a sign of the times that 12% of those surveyed didn’t believe there are any barriers at all to moving abroad, a rise of 4% on last year’s figure.

However, if we shift our attention back to the country-specific stats, we see that whilst the UK may be in the top three destinations for working abroad, people don’t seem to favour a long stay, although we do still make it into the top ten on this front. The United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong and Spain are said to provide the most attraction to professionals looking to extend their sojourn, and possibly make it permanent. So in spite of the USA dominating the destination poll with 24% of the vote – an 11% rise on last year may we add – people don’t appear to be keen on a drawn-out visit, yet still keener than they would be for one in the UK or Australia. Either way, it is again quite telling that 86% of those who have worked abroad stay longer than first anticipated, with 52% saying home was “anywhere in the world”. Moreover, a minimum of three years was the favoured length of stay for 75% of people who said they were willing to relocate, and 63% of people who are already working abroad have stayed for six years or more, with half considering permanent residency.

The report also breaks down the decision to work abroad by gender and age, with the overall trend bearing similarities to last year in showing that more women (56%) than men (48%) consider relocating within the first five years of their career, and a third of the women surveyed had relocated between the ages of 21 and 30, compared to 17% of men. Indeed, male respondents tend to move abroad a lot later, with 17% again the figure of choice, this time denoting the proportion of men who relocated between the age of 51-60, compared to 7% for women. When considering that two-thirds of the respondents who were already working and living abroad were men, and 70% of the 51-60 year olds doing so are of male persuasion, Hydrogen finds it is ultimately a case of going abroad early or not at all for women, especially when they represent 90% of the overall 8% who would not consider relocating. Andreia Rodrigues, a female respondent, suggested this is because men find it easier to balance their personal and professional lives than women, with Hydrogen making the point that starting a family has a large bearing on proceedings – essentially, women want to get their travelling done prior to settling down. 

It may seem we have squeezed the report dry here, but there is a lot more interesting insight to be had by taking an in-depth look here. 

Adam Pescod
Adam Pescod

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