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United Kingdom

As of 1/02/2020 the United Kingdom is no longer a member of the European Union. However, by virtue of the withdrawal agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom, freedom of movement of workers between the United Kingdom and the Member States, including the delivery of EURES services, continues to exist during a transition period which currently goes to 31/12/2020.

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Where are the available workers?

The Retail sector employs the most people in the UK and, although there have been some high profile redundancies in the past few years, the workforce levels are currently almost 5m.

It is a different picture with Manufacturing. The numbers employed in Manufacturing have reduced by almost a million over the last 10 years however the current workforce of 2.6m is the highest level since December 2009.  

The Public sector, including Local Authorities and Government Departments, has experienced a reduction in workers over the past few years and is at the lowest level since 1998 with 4.3% employed in this work. More job losses in the public sector are expected.

The top 4 occupations that unemployed people in the UK are looking for work in are, according to claimant count occupational preferences, Administrative occupations, Sales occupations, Elementary trades, plant and storage related occupations and finally elementary administration and service occupations. This is relatively consistent across all Regions and Countries in the UK. 

The occupations with the fewest numbers of people looking for work are Health Professionals, Protective Service Occupations (security), Managers and proprietors in agriculture and services, and Business and Public Service professionals.  

Text last edited on: 03/2017

Where are the available jobs?

Wholesale and retail trade employs the most people in the UK with 14.6% of the workforce. Some of the biggest UK retailers are the large supermarket chains including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda. The next largest industry is Human health and social work activities with 12.4% of the workforce or just over 4m people. The National Health Service (NHS) continues to be the biggest employer in the UK.

The key skills that are in short supply are: Drivers; Engineering across many disciplines; Skilled Chefs; Software developers/ Programmers;, Graphic Designers; Nursing and Care workers; Teachers; Skilled Musicians/ Dancers; Animators. .

Text last edited on: 03/2017

Short overview of the labour market:

The UK population is 64.5m with around 41m aged between 16 and 64. 

The UK labour market is flexible and dynamic, with over 10 million people moving between unemployment, employment and inactivity each year. Around one in five workers move into a job each year, and a similar proportion leave a job.

The UK employment rate has never been higher at 74.5 per cent. There are a record number of people in employment: 31.4 million. With population growth and migration, this is expected to continue - The Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts employment to rise each year to 32.1 million in 2020.

The greatest population and workforce densities are in London, South East and North West.  The lowest are in the North East and Wales.  London, North East and Scotland have the highest numbers of unemployed people per unfilled jobcentre vacancy.

According to September 2016 figures, there are approximately 776,400 people claiming Unemployment related benefits in the UK.  Many more people are working in part-time employment and have more than one part-time job. Overall in the UK there are just over 8.8m people classed as economically inactive, 21.5% of the 16-64 year old population.

Currently, there are approximately 14% of people in the UK who work in Assistant Professional and Technical occupations, nearly 20% in professional occupations and over 10% in administration and clerical work. Process plant and machinery operators have the lowest workforce at just over 6%.   

A third of the population are skilled to NVQ level 4 and above and about half to NVQ level 3 and above.  Approximately 1 in 10 has no qualifications. 

The median gross weekly pay for full time work is £53870, with the hourly rate at £13.59. On average, women earn around 10% less than men.

Text last edited on: 03/2017


Hot jobs:

Top 10 of the most required occupations in United Kingdom

1.    Software developers    (ISCO 2512)
2.    Nursing associate professionals    (ISCO 3221)
3.    Chefs    (ISCO 3434)
4.    Shop sales assistants    (ISCO 5223)
5.    Home-based personal care workers    (ISCO 5322)
6.    Teaching professionals not elsewhere classified    (ISCO 2359)
7.    Sales and marketing managers    (ISCO 1221)
8.    Construction managers    (ISCO 1323)
9.    Computer network and systems technicians    (ISCO 3513)
10.  Social work associate professionals    (ISCO 3412