2022 UK Graduate Job Market Analysis for International Students

International Students

Many international students come to the UK hoping to land a job after completing their studies. The UK job market has been very competitive for both international students and UK home students. However, it is much harder for international students due to visa restrictions. Some industry sectors hire more international students and sponsor work visas, while some other industries hire few.

Which industries hire the highest number of international students?

The UK job market has recovered relatively well after the pandemic, especially the graduate job market. According to High Fliers, a research organisation that publishes the annual Graduate Job Market Report, the number of graduates recruited in 2021 was higher than expected – a yearly increase of 9.4% compared with graduate recruitment in 2020.

Sectors that recruited the highest number of students and graduates were public sector, accounting & professional services, engineering and industrial, technology and investment banking. The latest recruitment targets for UK’s leading employers show that the number of graduate jobs on offer in 2022 is expected to increase by a further 15.7%, the largest annual rise in graduate recruitment for more than fifteen years. One important factor to note is the figure from the High Fliers survey is based on information collected from UK’s top 100 employers. It does not include the number of graduates and students recruited by smaller companies. Therefore, the actual numbers recruited are much higher than the numbers presented by High Fliers.

Sectors that hire a large number of graduates also recruit a higher number of international students, except the public sector and armed forces. For example, accounting and professional services firms hire more than 7000 students and graduates every year (please note: the figure shown in the table was only from the surveyed top 100 companies), and big four accounting firms like PwC, KPMG, EY and Deloitte alone hire around 3500 interns and graduates each year. However, due to supply shortages in the market, a growing number of professional services firms started hiring international students, making them the largest recruiters of international students. According to a recent survey conducted by UK Visa Jobs, nearly 60% of international students who landed a job in the UK were hired by accounting and professional services firms, of which the Big Four accounting firms accounted for 40%. Therefore, applying for jobs in industries such as accounting & professional services, engineering & industrials and technology sectors will significantly improve your chance of being hired in the UK.

How about public sector and armed forces jobs?

The public sector is the biggest employer in the UK. The public sector often includes government, education, emergency services, healthcare, public transportation, refuse collection and social care organisations. However, due to the sensitive nature of some roles, such as in government and armed forces, many public sector organisations and armed forces do not recruit non-UK citizens  or only provide sponsorship for people with many years of work experience in relevant fields. Many public sector organisations also do not run a graduate programme.

For example, UK’s biggest graduate recruiter for civil service jobs, the Fast Stream, does not provide visa sponsorship, meaning they do not accept international students. On the other hand, NHS, being one of the biggest public sector organisations in the UK, provides visa sponsorship for students and graduates based in the UK applying for their graduate scheme. It also provides sponsorship for certain healthcare professionals based in or outside the UK, depending on work experience. You can find out the details here.

We often receive inquiries from our users about healthcare or civil service jobs. If you would like to apply for healthcare jobs in the public sector, we advise you to visit NHS’s official website here, find suitable jobs and submit your application accordingly or check out our website regularly. If you would like to apply for healthcare jobs in the private sector, please check out our website.

What if you did not study accounting or finance or technology-related degrees?

As mentioned earlier, the biggest employers for international students are in accounting, professional services, banking, finance, engineering and technology-related sectors. However, it does not mean that you need to have degrees related to accounting, finance, business or technology. The majority of big UK employers accept applications from students or graduates who study ANY degree or subject. For example, you can apply for jobs in banking with a degree in geography or history as long as you are willing to. This is because many UK employers have structured training programmes that provide the required technical knowledge and skills after you join the company. Therefore, which degree or subject you study does not matter to many employers. If you want to apply for jobs in engineering, data science, web and software development, design and architecture, you may need to have a degree in one of the specific fields. It is important to check job description before applying.

How to land a job in the UK successfully as an international student or graduate?

Do you have an open mind or an “I will do this job or nothing” attitude? If you are open-minded, you are more likely to succeed in landing a job in the UK. You can try various industries and sectors and apply for many jobs, which naturally increases your chance of securing a job offer. If you limit yourself to a specific type of job, you may struggle to find a job that sponsors a work visa.

In addition to being open-minded, it is also vital to keep trying and learning from lessons. You do not succeed by just applying for one job. On average, international students and graduates apply for 30 visa sponsoring jobs to secure a job offer. This also does not mean you can get a job offer as long as you hit the 30 jobs benchmark. Some people apply for more than 100 jobs and get nothing. Some apply for six and get a job offer. That’s why it is crucial to have a targeted approach. You can find useful resources for your job application on your account page. Recording your application journey using the Application Tracker on your account page helps you identify your weak areas and allows you to have a targeted approach during your job application.

UK Visa Jobs is also happy to answer if you have any questions regarding a company’s recruitment process. We run many live webinars on a weekly basis covering topics such as CV writing, interviews and assessment centres. During a live webinar, you can ask any questions related to your job application and get answers from our career advisors. We received highly positive feedback from our attendees. Our previous attendees told us that our webinars helped them improve their chance of passing selections considerably, many of whom have already secured a visa sponsored job offer in the UK from the world’s leading organisations. We also suggest you attend our weekly webinars if you ever want to learn more on specific topics.