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UK Global Mobility Report: Statistics of Skilled Workforce Relocation

In an era marked by rapid technological progress and shifting global dynamics, the landscape of global mobility for skilled workers is evolving more swiftly than ever before. These changes are driven by a complex interplay of factors, including the demand for flexible work arrangements, legislative shifts aimed at attracting global talent, and the unique challenges and opportunities presented by short-term mobility options like nomad visas. As organizations and countries navigate these trends, the strategic management of global talent mobility has become a critical focus, necessitating a deeper understanding of its implications on the workforce and international business operations.

To shed light on these transformative trends, particularly in the context of skilled workforce relocation to the UK and its broader impacts, Tech Nomads has meticulously prepared this report. Drawing from a wealth of data and insights, the report explores key developments such as the increased demand for flexible working arrangements, legislative changes, and the evolution of global mobility management practices. By examining these trends through the lens of pre and post-Brexit impacts, the report aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of the current state of global mobility for skilled workers, offering valuable perspectives for stakeholders navigating this complex landscape.

Global Mobility Trends for Skilled Workers 

Global mobility trends are undergoing transformational changes, influenced by technological advancements, changing workforce expectations, and geopolitical shifts. Key trends observed include:

  • Increased Demand for Flexible Working Arrangements: There's a growing trend towards flexible working arrangements, including remote work, which has been accelerated by the pandemic. This shift is influencing global mobility as skilled workers seek opportunities that offer flexibility in terms of location and work arrangements​​.
  • Legislative Changes and Compliance Focus: Countries are adapting their immigration policies to attract skilled workers, though there are challenges related to compliance and the complexity of new legislations. These changes require businesses to stay agile and compliant with evolving laws to leverage global talent effectively​​.
  • Short-term Mobility and Nomad Visas: There's a rising trend in short-term mobility options, such as workations and business trips, facilitated by countries offering nomad visas. This trend caters to the demand for flexible working while enabling skilled workers to explore global opportunities without committing to long-term relocations​​.
  • Global Mobility Management Evolution: Organizations are recognizing the need to manage global mobility more strategically, making it a dedicated function within the business. This shift is driven by the need to address complex compliance, tax, and strategic planning issues associated with global talent mobility​​.

UK Net Migration Trends

The United Kingdom witnessed a substantial rise in immigration levels post-pandemic, with net migration reaching 672,000 in the period up to June 2023. Although this figure represents a decrease from the 745,000 recorded in the previous year, it remains significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels. A notable portion of this increase can be attributed to the UK's humanitarian response to crises in Ukraine, Hong Kong, and Afghanistan, which saw over 80,000 individuals arriving through specific resettlement schemes. Additionally, there has been an uptick in the number of overseas students and care workers migrating to the UK.

Pre and Post-Brexit Impacts on Skilled Workforce Mobility in the UK

Brexit has had a profound impact on the mobility of the skilled workforce to and from the UK, with changes observed both in the immediate aftermath and in the longer-term adjustments.


Before Brexit, the UK was part of the EU's single market, which allowed for the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital. This facilitated a relatively easy exchange of skilled workers between the UK and other EU countries, enriching the UK's talent pool, especially in sectors like healthcare, engineering, and technology.


  • Visa Requirements and Immigration Policies: The end of free movement means that EU citizens no longer have the automatic right to live and work in the UK, and vice versa. This has necessitated the introduction of new visa categories and points-based immigration systems aimed at attracting skilled workers but has also introduced additional barriers and complexities​​.
  • Talent Shortages and Sectoral Impacts: Certain sectors have experienced pronounced talent shortages due to Brexit. Industries that heavily relied on EU workers, such as agriculture, healthcare, and hospitality, have faced challenges in filling vacancies, prompting calls for policy adjustments to address these shortages​​.
  • Adaptation and Strategic Shifts: Businesses and sectors are adapting to the new normal by diversifying their talent sourcing strategies and exploring new markets for skilled labor. There's also an increased focus on training and upskilling domestic workers to fill the gaps left by the reduction in EU labor mobility​​.
  • Regulatory Changes and Compliance: Companies are navigating a complex regulatory landscape post-Brexit, dealing with new immigration rules, visa requirements, and compliance obligations. This has increased the administrative burden on businesses looking to recruit internationally​​.

Government Response

To address the surge in legal migration, the government has implemented several measures. These include tightening regulations around students bringing dependents and introducing a comprehensive plan aimed at reducing migration numbers by 300,000. This plan encompasses a variety of strategies, including limiting the ability of overseas care workers to bring family members and increasing the minimum earnings threshold for overseas workers to £38,700, a move designed to incentivize hiring local talent.

Specific Measures and Timelines

  • Care Worker Visa Reform: From 11 March, overseas care workers will be prohibited from bringing dependents, and only social care providers registered with the Care Quality Commission can sponsor visas.
  • Skilled Worker Salary Threshold: Starting 4 April, the salary threshold for overseas workers will rise to £38,700, encouraging businesses to prioritize domestic talent.
  • Family Visa Income Requirement: The minimum income threshold for family visas will incrementally increase, starting at £29,000 on 11 April and eventually reaching £38,700 by early 2025.
  • Reform of Shortage Occupation List: The government will transition the Shortage Occupation List to an Immigration Salary List in April, eliminating the 20% salary discount for listed occupations.

UK's Position in Global Mobility

The United Kingdom's position as a prime destination for the global skilled workforce is nuanced, shaped by several key factors that attract professionals from various sectors. The attractiveness of the UK to skilled workers can be attributed to its quality of life, career opportunities, robust immigration policies, and its standing in the global economy.

Quality of Life and Career Opportunities

The UK is renowned for its high quality of life, which encompasses a wide range of factors from cultural diversity and healthcare to education and environmental quality. Cities like London, Edinburgh, Manchester, and Bristol have been cited for their vibrant cultural scenes, educational institutions, and economic opportunities, making them attractive to skilled workers from around the globe. The UK's strong emphasis on work-life balance and comprehensive healthcare system further enhances its appeal​​.

Career opportunities in the UK, particularly in sectors such as finance, technology, healthcare, and academia, are vast. London, often referred to as the financial capital of the world, offers numerous opportunities in finance and banking. The tech sector is also booming, with cities like Manchester and Edinburgh emerging as tech hubs. This diversity in career opportunities not only attracts but also retains talent within the country​​.

Immigration Policies

Post-Brexit, the UK's immigration policies have undergone significant changes with the introduction of the points-based immigration system. This system is designed to attract skilled workers by focusing on skills and talents rather than nationality. The system awards points for job offers, salaries, and qualifications, among other criteria, making it easier for skilled workers to migrate to the UK. This approach is aimed at ensuring that the UK remains a top destination for talent worldwide​​​​.

Global Economic Position and Comparative Analysis

The UK's position in the global economy significantly influences its attractiveness to skilled professionals. Despite challenges, including those posed by Brexit, the UK remains a major player on the global stage, particularly in finance, technology, and the creative industries. The country's ability to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) is a testament to its continued appeal. In 2022, the UK was second in Europe for the number of FDI projects, and despite a slight decline, it showcased strengths in project value, delivering the highest jobs total in Europe and a strong performance in research and development​​.

Compared to other leading destinations for skilled professionals, such as the USA, Canada, Australia, and European countries like Germany and France, the UK holds its ground, especially in financial services, tech, and creative industries. However, challenges such as the cost of living, especially in London, and uncertainties around Brexit's long-term impact, play a role in shaping perceptions and decisions of potential migrants​​.

Statistics of Skilled Workforce Relocation to the UK

  • Work Visas Issued: The UK Home Office reported a significant increase in work-related visas. In the year ending June 2023, the UK issued 212,987 work visas, marking a 78% increase from the previous year. This figure includes skilled workers, health and care workers, and other work visas​​.
  • Top Nationalities: Indian nationals were the top recipients of the Skilled Worker Visa, reflecting the high demand for IT professionals and engineers. The healthcare sector also saw a substantial number of visas issued to Filipinos, known for their significant contributions to the NHS​​.
  • Sector-Specific Data:some text
    • Healthcare: A large portion of the healthcare visas went to nurses and doctors, with the NHS employing a significant number of overseas professionals to address staffing shortages.
    • Technology: The Global Talent Visa, aimed at attracting leaders in digital technology, science, arts, and culture, saw a noteworthy uptake, indicating the UK's appeal to high-skilled individuals in innovation-driven sectors​​.
  • Impact of Brexit: Post-Brexit, the UK introduced a points-based immigration system aimed at attracting skilled workers from around the world, replacing the EU freedom of movement. This system prioritizes skills and talent, allowing the UK to more directly address its labor market needs. The introduction of the Health and Care Worker visa is a testament to the UK's commitment to supporting its public health system by facilitating the recruitment of international healthcare professionals​​.
  • Trends Over the Last Decade: Over the past ten years, there has been a gradual shift in the source countries of skilled migration to the UK, with a noticeable increase in non-EU migration, particularly from Asia and Africa. This shift reflects global economic trends, changes in the UK's immigration policies, and the impact of Brexit on EU migration.
  • Levels of Expertise: The UK's immigration policy, especially the Skilled Worker route, emphasizes the attraction of individuals with high levels of expertise. This includes professionals with advanced degrees, significant work experience, and those recognized as leaders in their field.

Impact of Skilled Workforce Mobility

Effects on Employment

The term 'economic migrant' refers to those immigrating for work, who made up 15% of 2022's visa recipients. Assessing their contribution involves subtracting their public service costs from their income tax contributions. Data from HMRC for 2018-19 shows EEA and Swiss nationals contributed £22.4 billion more than they received in benefits, with non-EEA nationals contributing an additional £20 billion, totalling a £42.4 billion net contribution.

While these figures provide a baseline, they omit everyday contributions such as VAT, and overall impacts vary among different migrant groups. A 2018 Oxford Economics study found a net positive contribution of £2,300 per person from EEA migrants, contrasted with a net negative of £800 from non-EEA migrants, largely due to the cost of education for dependent children.

Effects on the Education System

International students, who received 22% of the visas in 2022, represent another substantial economic contribution. Unlike domestic students, they pay full tuition fees without access to student loans or fee caps. A recent study estimated that in the 2021/22 academic year, international students contributed £41.9 billion to the UK economy, against a cost of £4.4 billion for their and their dependants' use of public services. This equates to a net benefit of £37.4 billion, underscoring the potential impact of any policy changes on dependent visas.

Impacts of global mobility and collaboration on researchers

The influence of global mobility and collaboration on researchers is profound. A majority of researchers, over 80%, reported a significant boost in their international contacts and networks following their mobility experiences. Similarly, more than three-quarters of respondents indicated that their advanced research abilities were notably enhanced by their mobility experiences. Additionally, they reported substantial improvements in their recognition within the research community, career advancement, and both the quality and quantity of their research outputs.

These statistics highlight the vital role that international mobility plays in enriching the careers of researchers, as underscored by UK Research and Innovation findings.

Effects on Population Growth and Decline

Skilled migrants tend to be of working age and economically active, positively affecting the dependency ratio. The UK's immigration policies, favoring skilled workers, help address both the skills gap in various sectors and demographic challenges, such as an aging population and declining birth rates, particularly in Scotland.

Challenges and Opportunities


  • Visa Regulations and Immigration Policies: The post-Brexit immigration system, which emphasizes a points-based approach, has introduced complexities for employers and potential employees alike. This system may deter skilled workers due to the bureaucratic hurdles and the emphasis on high salary thresholds and job offers before arrival. Changes to immigration rules have particularly impacted sectors like healthcare and social care, which rely heavily on international workers​​​​.
  • Global Competition: The UK competes with other countries that are also looking to attract the same pool of skilled professionals. Countries like Canada, Australia, and Germany offer competitive packages, including more straightforward immigration processes, attractive work-life balances, and proactive recruitment campaigns targeting skilled workers worldwide​​.
  • Integration into UK Society and Workforce: Successful integration goes beyond just securing a job. Challenges such as social inclusion, access to housing, and quality of life play significant roles in not just attracting but retaining international talent. The perceived quality of life, including the cost of living, healthcare, and education, can influence a skilled worker's decision to stay in the UK long-term​​.
  • Sector-Specific Challenges: Certain sectors face unique challenges. For example, the social care sector has struggled with attracting and retaining staff due to perceptions of low pay, challenging work conditions, and limited career progression opportunities. These issues have been exacerbated by recent policy changes and the COVID-19 pandemic​​.


  • Reforming Visa and Immigration Policies: Simplifying the visa process and reducing bureaucratic obstacles can make the UK more attractive to skilled workers. Introducing more flexible criteria that consider the varying needs of different sectors could help address specific shortages, particularly in critical areas like healthcare, technology, and education.
  • Promoting the UK as a Destination for Innovation and Career Growth: Leveraging the UK's strengths in research, technology, and finance can attract those looking for cutting-edge work opportunities. Initiatives that highlight opportunities for professional development and involvement in innovative projects can appeal to highly skilled professionals.
  • Improving Integration Efforts: Programs aimed at helping skilled immigrants and their families settle and integrate into UK society can enhance the UK's attractiveness. This includes support for finding housing, understanding the healthcare and education systems, and community engagement activities that promote cultural exchange and social inclusion.
  • Sector-Specific Strategies: Developing tailored strategies for sectors facing significant challenges can create a more stable and attractive environment for skilled workers. For instance, in the social care sector, recommendations such as creating opportunities for young people, adopting values-based recruitment, consulting with the workforce on preferred rewards, and coordinating long-term strategies for workforce development are vital steps towards creating a more appealing and sustainable workforce environment​​.

Feeling lost in the UK visa rules? Tech Nomads got you covered.For talents wanting to showcase their tech skills in the UK market, Tech Nomads offers tailored strategies and robust support in UK Tech Global Mobility. Tech Nomads is a global mobility platform that provides services for international relocation. Established in 2018, Tech Nomads has a track record of successfully relocating talents and teams. Our expertise in adapting to regulatory changes ensures our clients’ satisfaction and success.To explore your UK relocation options, you may:

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