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UK retains its crown as top destination for European jobseekers

The UK remains the most popular country among Europeans looking to work abroad, but its lead is eroding fast, according to new analysis by the world’s largest job site Indeed.

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Indeed

  • However, Britain’s lead is shrinking as Germany and Ireland storm up the league table of most popular countries for European workers
  • Britons remain the least likely to look for work in another EU country, but Brexit has driven a 15% increase in the number with itchy feet
  • Indeed research comes as official statistics confirm an exodus of EU citizens from the UK in the 12 months following the Brexit referendum

The UK remains the most popular country among Europeans looking to work abroad, but its lead is eroding fast, according to new analysis by the world’s largest job site Indeed.

Researchers analysed the online search patterns of millions of jobseekers across the EU15, and found that among those looking for work in another country, the UK remains by far the most popular choice – attracting nearly a third of all interest in the first nine months of the year.

But for all Britain’s dominance, its star has waned substantially in the wake of the 2016 Brexit vote. The UK’s 31.8% share of EU15 cross-border job searches in the first nine months of 2017 is 14.7% lower than it was during the same period in 2015.

Table: Ranking of the most popular countries for EU15 jobseekers (based on each country’s share of cross-border job searches).

The analysis also suggests Britain’s loss could be its rivals’ gain. Germany, the second most popular country, saw its share of searches rise by a fifth (19.3%), while Ireland’s rose by a third (33.6%) and Luxembourg’s by a dizzying 56%.

Indeed’s data mirrors the UK’s latest official migration statistics, which show that the number of EU citizens moving to Britain fell by 19% in the 12 months following the Brexit referendum. During the same period, the number of EU citizens leaving Britain rose by 29% to 123,000.

The analysis, which highlights where people would like to work and gives a flavour of trends to come, also reveals many British-based workers are busy planning to move elsewhere in the EU.

While British job seekers considering a move abroad have traditionally been drawn mostly to English-speaking countries such as the US, Canada and Australia, between 2015 and 2017 Indeed tracked a 15.4% increase in the proportion looking for work in the EU.

Meanwhile on the other side of the coin, Ireland’s booming jobs market – and the waning appeal of Britain’s – prompted a 16.5% fall in the proportion of Irish job seekers hoping to move to Britain.

It’s a similar picture in Poland, a country which already has one million of its citizens living in the UK. Indeed’s researchers found that between 2015 and 2017 the proportion of job seekers in Poland looking for work in Britain fell by 11.4%.

Mariano Mamertino, EMEA economist at Indeed, commented: “For much of the past decade, Britain’s dynamic labour market has made it a poster boy for ambitious Europeans keen to progress their careers.

“Last year’s Brexit vote hasn’t stopped that attractiveness in its tracks, but it is clearly giving many European jobseekers pause for thought.

“So while the UK is still the most popular destination among Europeans looking to work abroad, its lead is shrinking fast. Britain’s loss could be its rivals’ gain – and Germany, France and Ireland are all attracting a greater share of the interest from upwardly mobile EU citizens.

“One more surprising aspect of the Brexit effect is the apparent outbreak of itchy feet among British jobseekers. Britain remains a net importer of talent from the EU, but the surge of interest in European roles among UK-based job seekers suggests the cross-Channel traffic is no longer just a one-way street.”