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British ‘brain drain’: Young talent quits UK for warmer economic climes

Published time: January 23, 2013 11:14
Edited time: January 23, 2013 15:14
Unemployed young people stand in line outside a job centre in central London. (AFP Photo / Leon Neal)

Unemployed young people stand in line outside a job centre in central London. (AFP Photo / Leon Neal)

Millions of people have emigrated from the UK over the last 10 years, most of whom seek to find a job in a more favorable economic climate. Graduate immigration is on the up as well in what’s been dubbed as the ‘talent drain’ by the British press.

According to statistics accumulated by the Office of National Statistics in the UK, over 3.5 million people have fled the country in the last decade.

The number has increased sharply over the past decade, going from 363,000 a year to a peak of 427,000 in 2008. However, during the past four years statistics have plateaued again, averaging off at 350,000 a year.

The principle motivation for leaving the UK is the search for a job, with 89 per cent of long-term immigrants being of working age, says the UK Home Office.

“Over the last 10 years, more than a third of British, EU and non-EU citizens who emigrated left to take up definite jobs but a much smaller proportion [18 per cent] of British citizens compared to the other two groups [34 per cent of EU citizens and 42 per cent of non-EU citizens) left to look for work,
” wrote the Home Office report published at the end of 2012.

Australia has traditionally been the most coveted destination for British nationals of working age over the past two decades, with the US following closely behind. Emigrants of retirement age tend to prefer destinations within the EU, such as France and Spain.

Those British citizens who chose to leave are more often than not highly-educated professionals seeking to work for pharmaceutical, aerospace, engineering and creative companies that are based abroad.

Conservative MP Nick de Bois told the Daily Telegraph that the growing rates of emigration were indicative of a talent drain that is dealing “enormous damage” to the UK economy.

In addition, last year a record amount of graduates quit the UK in search of employment in more favorable job climates.

Government statistics showed that in 2011, an average of one in 10 students looked for jobs abroad after graduating. The UK’s most successful higher education institutions were looked at in the report, including Cambridge, Durham, Exeter and Oxford.

Concerns have been voiced in British society that the departure of newly-graduated young professionals may leave a skill vacuum that will cause significant problems for the UK economy in the future.

Director of The Emigration Group, Paul Arthur, told the Yorkshire Post “there has never been a better time to emigrate.”

“The UK is continuing to experience a ‘brain drain’, with many Brits in professional or managerial positions emigrating to pursue careers abroad.”

British expat John Lucas, who moved to Australia three years ago, told the English publication “he had no plans to return to England.”

“With the 2008 global recession, the UK market was slow. But in Australia the market is still booming and there remains a great deal of opportunity for a construction business,” the 32-year-old said.

At present unemployment in the UK stands at almost 8 per cent, and the government is introducing sweeping economic cuts with a view to curtailing national deficit. Graduates have suffered the most in the economic crisis with unemployment at 9 per cent, and over 8 per cent still jobless six months after graduation.