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The great UK skills shortage: 5 occupations that can help you move abroad

The UK has long drawn people from around the world to live, work and study. It boasts an excellent healthcare system and impressive universities. Its countryside and cities are dotted with historic buildings and castles. Another big plus? The UK is incredibly diverse.  According to the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, about 14% of the UK’s population was born abroad, and 35% of immigrants live in London. And, many of the UK’s migrants come to work. In fact, in 2019 48% of EU residents moved to the UK to work, while 21% of non-EU residents did.  

So what kind of jobs are there in the UK for international applicants? The UK has a skills shortage for a long list of occupations, and professionals who can fill them will have an easier time applying for a UK work visa under the new points-based immigration system.  

In this blog, we’ll explore what top professions can help give you an advantage when applying for a UK work visa, and insight on how to get a job in the UK.  

The top jobs in the UK for international applicants 

The UK has two shortage occupation lists. One outlines occupations in healthcare and education that need more personnel. The other list features occupation shortages from a range of different fields – including the arts, science, and IT.  

To be eligible for a Skilled Worker visa in the UK, you need to reach 70 immigration points. And working in a job on the Shortage Occupation List counts for 20 points – which can provide you with a big advantage. We’ll expand on a few top jobs on the list:  

1. Nurses 

The UK has faced a nurse shortage for a long time. Right now, England needs to fill more than 36,000 positions, making it an excellent place to look for work if you’re a nurse wanting to move abroad. Already, about 15% of nurses in the UK are trained overseas.  

However, nurses and other healthcare professionals were added to the Shortage Occupation List just this March. “Every year we welcome healthcare workers from across the world to our United Kingdom, with many having played a key role on the frontline of the NHS during the recent pandemic,” said the UK Minister for Future Borders and Immigration, Kevin Foster, in a statement.  

The move, he said, will help ensure international healthcare professionals get the immigration status they deserve.  

You can learn more about how to register as a nurse in the UK in our blog.  

2. Pharmacists 

Pharmacists were also added to the UK’s Shortage Occupation List in 2021. While not as in short supply as nurses, there’s a pharmacist vacancy rate of about 8% in hospitals. Again, this means there could be of opportunity for internationally-trained pharmacists to find a job in the UK.  

To work as a pharmacist in the UK, you need to register with a regulatory body called the General Pharmaceutical Council, which you can learn more about on the NHS website. (The NHS is the UK’s publicly funded healthcare system). 

3. Engineers 

There are also plenty of engineering jobs on the shortage occupation list. From civil engineers to mechanical engineers, to electrical engineers and everyone in-between engineers from around the world are in high demand in the UK.  

Depending on the field of engineering you work in, you’ll have to make 80% of the going rate for the job to be eligible for a Skilled Worker visa.  That’s between about £26,160 and £29,600 per year. 

4. Secondary education teachers 

Secondary education teachers who teach math, physics, modern foreign languages, and computer science are some other jobs on the list. If you’re a trained teacher outside the UK, you can work without getting Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) for four years. But after that, you’ll have to become a qualified teacher in the UK.  

You can learn more about teacher salaries on the UK Department of Education website. To qualify for a visa, you’ll have to earn at least £20,480 (or more depending on where you’re located).  

5. Graphic designers 

Are you a graphic designer? Well, you’re in luck. Graphic designers are also a sought-after profession in the UK. It’s common for graphic designers to work on a freelance basis. But keep in mind: to qualify for a Skilled Worker visa, you’ll need to get a job sponsorship in the UK from an employer.  

You’ll also have to earn 80% or more of the going rate for graphic designers in the UK. This is about £18,800 per year. 

How to get a UK work visa  

Skilled Worker visa lets you work in the UK with an employer who is approved by the Home Office, which is a UK government department. As we mentioned above, you’ll have to reach 70 immigration points to be eligible. Having a job offer from an employer, professional skills, and English proficiency all contribute to your points.  

Depending on your situation, you may decide to apply for another type of visa or immigration route, such as the EU Settlement Scheme or UK Graduate visa. There is also a Health and Care Worker visa, which enables healthcare professions to work with the NHS.  

How to find a job in the UK 

So, how can you find an employer in the UK to sponsor you? There are lots of job boards that are related to specific professions. For example, the UK’s Department of Education offers a website to search for teaching vacancies by location. There’s also, which features thousands of nursing jobs. More generally, websites like Reed and Jobsite are also good places to look for employment in the UK.  

You might be interested in: Things you need to know to work in the UK

All in all, the UK is an excellent place to call home. And better yet, there’s plenty of job opportunities to help you thrive.  

Our Secure English Language test, PTE Academic UKVI, is accepted by the UK’s Home Office for all UK visas to test your four language skills – including the Skilled Worker visa.  

Learn more about the test today.